Prepare Your Child…and Yourself for Camp!

By American Camp Association

For parents, the most heart-racing, adrenaline pumping moments happen when you let go and watch your child try something on his or her own. The moment the training wheels come off, the first trip down the driveway on the skateboard, the first time our children ride the school bus—these are more than just memories, these are critical moments that define growth and change. For many families, the first time they send their child to camp is one of the biggest let go, hold your breath, and watch them soar moments in childhood.

In today’s world of hightech kids and families who have a constant connection to each other, it’s essential to take the time to emotionally prepare for camp. It is, of course, important to prepare the first-time camper, but families need to make sure that Mom, Dad, younger siblings at home—virtually everyone—is ready to adjust to camp life. To help ease firsttime families into the camp experience, take a look at the following tips provided from the American Camp Association® (ACA).

Parents:
As parents, it is important to focus on the positive aspects of camp. Remember that separation is natural, necessary, and inevitable–what better place to have that first experience than in a caring and nurturing environment designed specifically for children? Parents can also
focus on the amazing benefits of camp, an experiential education like no other teaching of valuable survival skills like leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and interpersonal communication. “The greatest gifts that parents can give their child are independence and resiliency,” said Peg Smith, ACA’s former chief executive officer. “Parents should remember that by choosing camp, they are giving both.”

Siblings:
Bob Ditter, family therapist and one of the nation’s leading experts on camp, cautions it is likely that the child left at home will experience separation anxiety and truly miss his or her sibling. To help them prepare, be sure to talk about the upcoming separation. Before the eldest child leaves for camp take a picture of your children together that the sibling can keep in their room or carry around. Remind your children about the communication they can have with each other through letters and postcards.

Other family members:
Be sure that everyone is aware of the upcoming experience. Let family members know how to contact the camper if they are interested in sending letters and care packages—but, make sure they are aware of any communication policies the camp may have, (i.e. no phone calls or restrictions on what can be sent in a care package). In addition, an increasing number of camps are using websites to display photos or video during the camp session. According to ACA’s 2011 Emerging Issues Survey, 75 percent of responding camps indicate that they post photos or videos to a website for families to view. Forty-five percent indicate that they post information, photos, and videos to social media outlets like Facebook. Families should be sure to ask camp directors about these options.

Camp is an equal opportunity life-changer. By sending a child to camp, families are truly giving a gift that lasts a lifetime. By taking steps to mentally prepare for camp, families not only keep from getting “kid-sick” for their camper, but they can stay positive about the camp experience—which goes a long way toward helping first-time campers adjust to life at camp. And just like taking off the training wheels, the moment families see their
camper radiating confidence and joy they will feel that burst of pride and gratitude that they allowed their child this experience.

For more information about preparing for the summer camp experience, or to find a camp, parents can visit www.ACAcamps.org. This online resource for families includes expert advice, information on health and safety, and ACA’s searchable database of over 2,400 ACA-Accredited® camps. © 2017 American Camp Association, Inc.

More Articles

Hit the Reset Button on Your Kids’ Nutrition

…with Healthier On-the-go Meals and Snacks By Esther Blum, Integrative Dietitian and Lifestyle Coach After a summer of fun, sun and treats it may be time for a nutrition reset as summer winds down and you prepare for the new school year. As an integrative dietitian, I hear people’s battle cries for help, especially when…

Smart Start: Tips from Teachers to Kick Off the School Year Right

By Christa Melnyk Hines School bells will soon ring once again. Whether that comes as music to your ears or a bittersweet reminder that the free-spirited summer days are over, check out these tips from the pros to help you and your child enjoy a smart, happy start to school. Push the reset button. A…

Back to School Traditions to Start this Year

By Pam Molnar The years seem to pick up speed as your child gets older. One minute they are getting on the bus for Kindergarten and in the blink of an eye, they are walking across the stage at their high school graduation. Don’t let those years go by in a blur. Capture the first…

Nurturing Nature in Kids

By Linda Chaiko-Lepley If you’re spending time outdoors with your children and instilling in them a love of nature, give yourself a pat on the back! But, if you’re reading this article and feel a tinge of guilt that your child might be spending more time in front of a screen, and less time out…

Beat the Summer Heat with These Cool Ideas!

Check out our “Cooler Than a Popsicle” Pinterest board for some excellent activities for the kids during this hot summer heat wave!

An Age-by-Age Guide: How to Teach Money-Saving Tips

By: H. Davis If you’re like most parents, you want to raise responsible children, especially when it comes to finances. But raising financially responsible children involves lots of teaching and tons of education lessons right from the start. Aside from giving them an understanding about the value of money, teaching children about finances helps them…

Vaping 101

By Christa Melnyk Hines Just as cigarette smoking drops to its lowest level in years, e-cigarette use, a.k.a. “vaping,” is exploding among middle and high school students. Teens may blow off the trend as harmless, but experts think otherwise. “It’s important to understand that this is a drug delivery system. In some ways, calling it…

What is Parent-Child Interactive Therapy?

The need-to-know for parents of kids with behavioral challenges. By Michelle Kopkash Frequent tantrums. Non-stop whining. Shows of aggression. Constant complaining. Acts of defiance. Deliberate attempts to annoy others for attention. If any of these negative behaviors sound painfully familiar to you as a parent, there’s good news. With the right parenting tools and skills,…

Sacramento [is] International

Encourage Kids to Learn a Second Language By Stephen Muff Americans are notorious for not learning another language. Roughly three-quarters of Americans have no foreign language. Yet, a nation to the North speaks French, a nation to the south speaks Spanish, and we can see Russia approximately 55 miles from Alaska. The benefits of learning…

Subscribe to the Parent Newsletter

Our latest articles, resources and tips—direct to your inbox.

Follow Sacramento Parent