Did you know that according to research, parents spend up to 37 hours a week worrying about their children?
And parents who are sending their children away for their first sleepaway or overnight camp experience will no doubt worry triple time. In fact, it may be quite an in-tents experience…
But don’t panic! We’ve collected 10 tips on how to prepare your overnight camper for their first experience. Are you ready?
Let’s go to overnight camp!
1. Mentally Prepare Them for Overnight Camp
Before the big day arrives, discuss the summer camp program with your child. Go over the website together, look at the photos, and try to get them familiar with what the routine will consist of.
Some overnight campers have never spent a night away from their parents. This means first-timers might feel uncomfortable, awkward, and just plain scared.
Prepare them mentally by sending them away for sleepovers with trusted friends and relatives. But whatever you do, don’t pick them up and take them home if they call you in the middle of the night!
2. Do All the Practical Jobs
The week before camp starts, have your child get a haircut. And don’t forget to check for pesky lice. Most camps have lice checks on the first day — but nobody likes to spend their first day getting treated for lice!
If possible, try to take them to see the Doctor and Dentist before overnight camp too. If you don’t and something happens during camp, you may have to pay for emergency medical treatment which can cost you a bomb.
Make sure you have an honest and open line of communication with the Camp Directors. Whether your child is taking medication, sleepwalks or occasionally wets the bed, disclose all details before camp begins.
3. Let Your Child Take Charge
In many ways, the overnight camp experience is about your child pushing boundaries, and becoming more independent. So, let them take charge of the preparations — with your assistance of course!
Shop together for supplies. Have them pick out practical items that they need, and let them take a few fun things too. After you’ve spent up at the store, pack everything together.
Letting your kid take charge in these ways will also allow them to visualize what their camp experience will be like.
4. Have a Pep Talk
As a first-timer staying at an overnight camp, your child will no doubt feel nervous. This is totally natural and several other newbies at the summer camp will be feeling exactly the same.
Give them a pep talk before camp begins. Let them know that the first few days might be tough, but by pushing past their comfort zone they will grow emotionally and have the adventure of a lifetime.
Try to address any concerns and fears they may have. Keep positive, yet be realistic. Otherwise, at the first sight of an issue, they’ll be calling you to pick them up.
5. Make Exciting Goals
Brainstorm with your first-time camper about what positive and realistic goals they have. Try to list 5 specific goals about what they want to do during summer camp. For instance, go down the zip line, make a friend from another country or learn a craft.
Don’t forget to write a letter, a few weeks into the summer camp program, to ask specifically about the goals you discussed.
6. Give them a Taste of Home
Sleepaway camp is an incredible adventure filled with fun from start to finish, but it doesn’t mean that homesickness won’t come into the equation now and again.
When you’re packing together, make sure to add a couple of photos from home. Additionally, pack them lots of writing materials. Whether it’s a personal journal or paper for letter writing, make sure they have something where they can jot down their feelings.
7. Write Fun Letters
Whether they reply to your letters or not, campers love to receive mail from home! However, when you’re writing letters to your kiddie campers be cautious as to what you write.
Here are a couple of letter writing tips:
- Don’t make them feel guilty (i.e. “it’s so lonely here without you”)
- Avoid adding bad news (i.e. “your goldfish died”)
- Avoid amazing news which will make them think home is much more awesome than camp (i.e. “we got a new pool”)
Instead of giving them news from home, try to dwell on their overnight camp experience. Ask loads of questions and if possible, send them a cool care package.
8. Don’t Spoil Their Experience
Do not to make promises that will spoil their camp experience!
For example, don’t promise to pick them up early if they aren’t having a good time. Even if they struggle with homesickness for a while, the results will be a new found confidence if they stick it out. But, if you’ve given them a “get out of jail free” card, they won’t give camp a chance.
9. Overnight Camp is Not Just for Kids!
Yes, this is about parents now! You deserve some “me time.” So take this perfect opportunity for freedom while the kids are gone.
Whether you take a vacation, meet some friends or just go out for dinner, enjoy a bit of time to re-charge your batteries before the parental routine starts up again.
10. Short and Sweet Goodbyes
Drop-off day for summer camp is exciting yet daunting. The seemingly hectic process may leave you and your child feeling anxious.
But whatever you do, don’t engage in a long emotional, and tearful goodbye. It won’t do any good for either party. If you do drag it out, your kids might feel sad and even guilty. So keep it together, and give them a farewell that’s full of excitement and hope.
Feel free to blub once you get back in the car!
Your Overnight Camper is Ready to Go!
If you follow these tips, your overnight camper will be prepared both mentally and physically. You can be sure that they will have the time of their life and make memories that will last forever.
Of course, before you start preparing your child for camp, you need to pick the right camp. With so many options out there, how do you know which is the best one for your child?
We at The Camp Experts & Teen Summers have done all the research for you.
So, what are you waiting for? Request free information about your options today.