Summer is coming, and for many kids, that means a trip to camp. If this is your child’s first trip to camp, you may both be nervous about how things will go. A little advance preparation can make everyone feel more comfortable.
Get ready — choose the right camp!
Your preparation begins with choosing the right camp. You want a camp that is your child will enjoy, especially as a first camping experience. Talk to your child about what kind of camp sounds fun. Some questions to consider include
- Day camp or overnight
- Type of camp – religious, sports, academic, Scouts, etc.
- Length of the camp (how many days, how many hours each day if it is a Day Camp)
- Whether any friends will be attending the same camp
Of course, in addition to being fun, you want a camp that is safe. Once you and your child narrow down your camping choices, you will want to research a few camps to find out about their safety procedures, such as
- Staff-to-camper ratio
- Staff training
- Hiring procedures, including whether the camp checks references and does background checks on all staff
- Availability of medical personnel
- Procedures for keeping the camp safe from intruders
- Bad weather procedures
If the camp is accredited by the American Camp Association, then it meets more than 300 standards on health, safety, facilities, programs, and staffing. Smaller camps may not be accredited, but you can call the camp director with questions.
Get set – enroll in camp and start preparing!
You’ve chosen a camp for your child! Even if camp is a few months away, you can start getting ready now:
- Schedule a physical for your child if one is required.
- Send in all required enrollment forms and medical forms.
- Ask about what gear your child needs to bring. Go shopping if necessary.
- Label all gear.
- Arrange travel to and from camp.
- Talk with your child about what to expect at camp. For example, are calls home allowed? What will the daily schedule be? Will there be a visitor’s day? If your child seems nervous, communicate confidence in his or her ability to handle being away from home.
- Set up a “thinking about you” time: you and you child will think about each other every day at breakfast, when you see the first star of the night, or when you brush your teeth.
- Find out the mailing address for sending letters to campers.
Go – time for camp!
It’s finally time for camp! You and your child are probably both nervous and excited. The last few days before departure day will be busy, as you need to
- Pack gear, using the checklist you received from the camp.
- Pack self-addressed stamped postcards or envelopes so your child can write to you from camp.
- Mail letters to camp for your child to receive. Mail the first letter early so your child receives it the first day of camp.
- Give your child spending money for snacks, t-shirts, etc.
Going to summer camp is a big step for children and parents, but it is a wonderful way for children to practice independence, make new friends, learn about teamwork, be creative, develop new skills, and more. And with a little preparation, you can help ensure your child’s time at camp is “two thumbs up!”