Is Your Child Ready for Overnight Summer Camps?
It’s no surprise to us why parents continue choosing overnight summer camps to help with their child’s growth and development. We have positive memories from when we were children. We value the skills and friendships we made along the way.
Why wouldn’t we want to hand down that rite of passage? But how can you tell when your own child is ready for the experience?
The following signs should help!
1. Your Child Can Read
Children at summer camp learn to depend on one another through a variety of team-oriented games and activities. Tug-of-war, team obstacle courses, softball games, building activities. Anything requiring a group effort will require participants to follow directions.
Following directions is a skill tested through reading comprehension. The testing ages for this skill begin in pre-K and kindergarten, but children can struggle with it, particularly those with developmental disabilities, for a longer period of time, and many do.
A rule of thumb we follow is the reading test. If your child can read for enjoyment without your assistance, it’s time to think about sending them to overnight summer camps.
2. Overnight Stays Are Not a New Concept
Many children learn to spend time away from Mom and Dad through their grandparents. If your child already has packed a bag and stayed at Grandma’s house (without getting homesick), then they may be ready for the big time.
A more certain measuring stick is an overnight stay with a friend from school. Staying overnight with a friend is a better facsimile of the camp experience because your child will be with his or her peers in both settings.
If he enjoys the sleepover time, that feeling likely will translate to camp. He or she also will need a certain level of self-sufficiency.
3. Bathing Is an Independent Activity
You and I take bathing for granted. We strip down at the fitness center after a hard workout, walk to the shower, soap up, rinse off, and return to our lockers.
It’s probably different for your child.
At first, they didn’t think anything of sitting in the tub while playing with bath toys. But at a certain point, their bodies grew and started changing.
Many aren’t sure what to think about these changes. The risk of being on display in a community shower of their peers is horrifying.
At least, it is until they get comfortable bathing themselves without us coercing them, and they also realize their peers are going through the same thing as they are. If your child says, “Mom, Dad, I’m going to take a bath”, and back it up without any help from you, they’re ready for summer camp.
4. Screen Time Is Not an Addiction
A 2017 study from nonprofit Common Sense Media found children were spending an average of 48 minutes per day on handheld electronic devices. How do you know when/if he has a problem?
- If your child deals with tough days through a digital fix
- If he hides use of screen time
- If he can’t pry himself away and doesn’t immediately respond to your instructions to do so
- If other trusted family members are telling you there’s a problem
Coincidentally, these qualities also coincide with a disinterest in outside activities. What should you do to get a digital addict interested in overnight summer camps?
Consider enrolling him in organized physical activities where he’s around peers and doing something involving human interaction. Little league sports, ballet and dance, gymnastics, piano lessons: look for things that will allow your child to expand their social circles.
Also, make time to participate in outdoor and other physical activities with your child. They’re more likely to show interest if you do, too. And once they’ve taken an interest, they’ll be more open to the camp conversation.
5. They Are Good Swimmers
One’s swimming ability is not only a health and safety issue with overnight summer camps. It’s also a social thing. Your child’s first extended stay away from home will come with a certain degree of insecurity.
They will be comparing themselves to other children. If they see a fellow camper has abilities they do not — particularly those their own age — it will make them feel too self-conscious to fully enjoy the experience. While this depends on the type of camp we’re talking about, swimming ability is a good indicator of readiness to be on their own.
Some Signs They Are Not Ready for Overnight Summer Camps
Is your child clingy? Do you have to threaten disciplinary action just to get them to eat dinner?
Does he still have bathroom issues (i.e., bedwetting, hygiene, bathing, etc.)? Does he or she lack meaningful friendships?
Answering yes to any of these questions is a clear indicator you may want to wait another year. But if that’s the case, try to remember one thing:
A child’s readiness – or lack thereof – is not an indicator of his or her worth. Children of the same ages develop at different paces, so don’t feel uneasy if yours isn’t there yet. It will come in time.
Your Next Move
Where does your child stand? If you believe they are ready to experience the excitement and adventure of overnight summer camps, talk to them about it.
If there is still some uncertainty but the signs are there, share your own experiences. Also, consider reaching out to us for free information on upcoming sleepaway camps and teen programs in your area.
Boys only, girls only, co-ed, brother/sister, special needs: we provide up-to-date information for the next three years, tailored to your budget, region, and child. And while you’re with us, check out more tips on how to get the most out of your child’s camp experience.