Worried about sending your child to overnight camp for the first time? Your child can often experience homesickness or get bullied at an overnight camp, so it is your job as a parent to help them overcome these situations and make time to support them and be their for their needs and concerns. In order to help ease the camp jitters, here is some expert advice.
Focus on phrases like “see you on check-out day” or “write a letter home when you have a few minutes.” These phrases will set the stage that the expectations are for the child to have fun and not feel the need to call home.
Get excited with your child about the vacation from technology that they can take while at camp. Camp is about being interactive with others and nature. Iphones, cell phones, Ipods, personal tablets and the like often hinder that goal. Let them enjoy themselves without having the need to keep in contact through technology.
Encourage your child to find similarities and differences with their new friends and revel in the uniqueness of their cabin mates. Camp is a wonderful place to make new friends that can potentially last a lifetime. If you ever went to camp as a child, then you understand the benefit that these types of communities can have on the rest of a child’s life.
Encourage your child to stand up to bullying, whether it is happening to them or someone else. Camp is by nature a supportive environment and if others see that bravery, they are likely to support it too.
Ask a lot of questions of your child in the car on the way home from camp or as soon as they get off the bus. If you are not sure what you should be asking about, get some primer questions from their counselors (ex: “Tell me about what was discussed at campfire on closing night.”). Once you’ve had a chance to talk with your child about their experience, share your feedback with camp so they can focus on repeating good experiences for other campers or fix problem areas.
Try not to tell your child to call you if they are not having fun. This sends the message that you as the parent are expecting your camper to fail and you will bail them out when they do fail.
Keep from sending a cell phone with your child, assuming that camp’s policy is no electronics. Again, this is providing the temptation for your child to call/text you (or their friends).
Send your child to camp without a group of their current friends that will all be in the same cabin or bunk. Camp is about meeting new friends.
Tell your child that their counselor is there to support them and if they are being bullied, they can talk to their counselor or other staff members at camp.
Talk to your child about their expectations and share those with the counselors on check-in day. It is a simple way to help set your child up for success.
An overnight camp experience can offer a child adventures and challenges along with opportunities for developing independence, leadership, human relations and strong values. Parents can guide their children to a positive camping experience.
More expert advice about Summer Camps
Photo Credits: Arriving at summer camp by Flickr: Peter Blanchard; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com