Is this the first time you’re going to drop off your child off at an overnight summer camp?
I bet you’ve already explored a lot. Overnight Summer Camp is the perfect environment to build your child’s self-confidence, independence, and nurture their talents through the away-from-home experience. But before such wonders happen, first you have a great deal more to prepare. It’s an easy task and it is all doable. What you need is a basic plan and a few weeks to set everything right. Here are handy tips to get your child ready for summer camp:
· Start packing early
Overnight Summer Camps usually publish packing lists a few months in advance. You can use these lists to begin the search for all the things required at the camp. The earlier you begin, the less time you will spend scrambling at the last minute. A typical list can be seen on the left.
· Be easy on yourself
You need to stay as calm as possible. It may sound as obvious advice, but it’s very useful. The more worked up you get about packing, the more likely your child will pick up on your tension. Remember nobody is perfect. It would be unrealistic to think that you’ll pack for summer camp with a smile on your face the entire time. Packing is a big job and therefore should be spread out over a long time. You can break the tasks into manageable portions. If you accidentally forget anything, don’t be upset because you can probably borrow or procure it at the camp store.
· Pack old clothes and gear
Overnight Summer Camps are tough on clothes and gear. So, consider packing old clothes, sheets, towels, and pillowcases which you don’t mind throwing away. You can make an exception for a good sleeping bag because staying warm and comfortable at night is crucial at camp.
· Let your child be involved in the packing
Remember once you drop off your child at the camp, he will be in charge of his stuff. Therefore, the child should know exactly what is in the bag and where it’s packed. Involving the child in the packing will give him/her some practice so that when it’s time to come home he/she doesn’t have trouble packing it all up.
· Pack extra socks, underwear, and t-shirts
The children usually get dirtier when at camp than you may think. Packing them extra socks, t-shirts and underwear could save them a lot of headaches since you don’t know the status of the laundry situation.
· Consider packing sunglasses and hats
Sunglasses and hats play an essential role in protecting your child from the strong sun’s rays. You can get replacements from most of the camp stores but they might be unpleasant or expensive.
· Pack what the child can handle
The best idea is to choose a bag which the child can easily roll, carry, or drag on their own. Even though they will need some help, the child should understand that the packed stuff is their responsibility.
So after packing, how do you prepare your child so that they will be ready for overnight summer camp? Here are some tips:
· Start practicing the independence skills at home
Once you drop off your child at the camp, he/she is going to be managing his/her basic hygiene by themselves. It is therefore very important to teach them the basics such as combing their hair and handling cleanup chores. Generally, children need time to learn and so you should keep that in mind.
· Listen to what the child wants
You’ve already done your part as a parent, but you also need to give your children room to have their own feelings and reactions.
· Go to the camp preview day
This might be hard for many parents, but if you try it I am sure you’ll find it worthwhile. You will learn a lot and have peace of mind before you drop off your child there.
· The drop-off day preparation
Clearly understand the drop off day logistics. You should know how your child is going to arrive at the camp; if you’re going to walk them to their cabin or pass them off to the counselors at the entrance. Also, find out if there are forms which you should fill out upon arrival.
· Find out the camp’s care package policy and mail requirements
You can drop a postcard in the mail starting from the first day of the camp. Even though care packages are optional, you can send one but it would be nice to include an inexpensive favor which your children can share with others.
· Inquire about cell phone policy
I know you want your children to be able to reach you in the event of an emergency. But nearly all the overnight summer camps prohibit children to have cell phones when at the camp. This is because having a direct line home makes homesickness last longer and also causes an electronic distraction as it relates to the camp experience.
· Be hopeful for the best
Just relax because the camp staffs are experts at keeping the children safe and communicating when there’s a problem. It’s a hard thing to be out of contact with your child. But you’ll find the distance worthwhile for the both of you.
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