What is Sleepaway Camp Like? Here’s What to Expect

Are you getting ready to send your kids to sleepaway camp?

Overnight summer camps can be a critical component of any child’s growing up.

Sleepaway camp programs can give your son or daughter a chance to extend their academics, pursue a special interest, and make new friends.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind before you sign your child up for a sleepaway summer program, however.

One of these things involves preparing your child for everything that camp has to offer.

If your kids have asked, “What is sleepaway camp like?”, we have answers. Read on for insight into what to expect!

1. Community

Most sleepaway programs are designed to bring together children of similar ages, interests, or grade levels. Many will place a premium on creating a particular community centered around fun, learning, and group activities.

While some programs will enable kids to have individual free time, most will focus on bringing everyone together. Whether your child is headed to a summer space camp or a horseback riding program, she is likely to spend most of her time at camp with other camp-goers and counselors.

This is an important thing to discuss with your child, particularly if she prefers to spend time by herself or is shy in large groups.

In fact, many camps are suited for kids who are timid or shy around other people, as most programs create a supportive community in which camp-goers can express themselves and have fun.

Some programs will help kids develop collaboration or team-building skills through group activities, which can be great assets to have in the classroom and beyond.

2. Fun and Learning

Many sleepover camps will offer kids a healthy mix of fun and learning (with a huge emphasis on fun). Your kids can definitely expect to create memories they will likely talk about for weeks and months after their experience at summer camp.

Some programs will give kids a chance to get creative, offering arts and crafts activities, music events, and more. Others will integrate learning via team-building activities, lessons, and classes, or field trips.

The type of fun your child can expect to have will depend on the focus of the program itself.

However, your child is likely to learn a lot about other things, such as what it’s like to be away from home for that long, how to build new friendships with strangers, and what they are truly passionate about.

3. A Packed Schedule

Many summer camp programs are jam-packed with activities, events, and more. Kids can expect a whirlwind schedule that, in many cases, gets them up early and keeps them busy until evening hours.

Many kids will come back from summer camp happily exhausted for this reason. But it’s definitely good to give your children a heads-up about how busy they will likely be at summer camp.

This may also mean that some kids will have to get up earlier than they are used to in the summertime. Some camp programs will simply not have the space for accommodating naps or quiet time.

It may also mean later bedtimes, although this isn’t always an issue with camp-goers.

4. Days Away from Home

This is the universal quality of every sleepaway program, no matter what its emphasis is. Your child will be spending a handful of days–if not weeks–away from home.

For some kids, this isn’t a problem. They may crave the time away and the opportunity to make new friends. For others, however, it can be challenging.

Many programs will give kids a chance to write postcards or letters home or call their parents when they wish. Most will have a support team available to help camp-goers manage homesickness and other issues.

Be sure to talk to your kids about strategies for dealing with homesickness. Make sure they understand at least conceptually what it will be like to be away from home for that long.

5. Life in the Dorms

Sleepaway camp often groups camp-goers together into dorms or cabins. Your child is probably going to share a room with at least one other camp-goer, if not several others.

This may be a unique experience for some kids who are used to having their own rooms. Other children who like to have their own space may be uncomfortable at the thought of sharing a room with a stranger.

Nonetheless, sleeping in the dorms is an exciting experience that gives your kids a taste of what college is going to be like. It can also be much like having a sleepover with best friends.

Dorm life will probably come with rules, however. Camp-goers will likely have to adhere to a lights-out or after-hours policy.

6. Dedicated Staff

The best camp programs will have a dedicated staff designed to keep programs running smoothly.

Many camps will have counselors or resident assistants. These counselors are often younger staff members who act as leaders, friends, and valuable resources throughout the program.

Other camps will have instructors, leaders, and medical staff available for leading activities and managing issues.

Many camp-goers develop powerful bonds with their counselors and instructors. This is another great thing to emphasize when talking with your child about what to expect at sleepaway camp.

What is Sleepaway Camp Like? Final Thoughts

When your kids ask you, “What is sleepaway camp all about?” it’s important to answer them honestly.

No two sleepaway camp programs are like. But in general, many will offer your kiddos extended time away from home, a taste of what dorm life is like, and a packed schedule.

Most programs will emphasize fun and learning through group activities, events, and classes. The best programs will have a support network to ensure that your child stays healthy and happy throughout the extent of the camp.

Here at Overnight Camp Experts, we are here to help all families navigate the ins and outs of sleepaway camp. We provide the best advice of the industry to ensure that your kids develop valuable summertime memories!

Still on the fence about what summer camp to choose for your kids? We can help!

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