Time to Play: Tips on Sending Kids to Camp

School is out, and summer has arrived. This year, my oldest daughter is going away for weeklong camp, and to say that I’m nervous is an understatement. Preparation is key to getting your child and yourself ready for this exciting adventure. Here’s my top 10 tips on sending your child away to camp.

  1. Make sure your child has had a positive experience spending the night away from home, perhaps at a family member’s or friend’s house. Discuss your own childhood camping memories and stories with your children.
  2. Circle and decorate the first day of camp on the family calendar and start the countdown to camp. Mark off each day leading up to it and spending time talking about what a great experience camp will be.
  3. Write your child a couple of letters, and pack the sealed envelopes in their luggage a day or two before they leave for camp. Tell your son or daughter they can open them while they are away at camp. It’s also equally important that you write a letter and send it through the mail. “Mail Call” is always a big event at camp, and every child loves to get mail from home.
  4. Be sure to send paper, postcards and stamps so your child can write back and maintain that connection even while you are separated.
  5. Make sure your child can manage basic personal hygiene such as brushing teeth, changing clothes and bathing.
  6. Develop a checklist of items needed for camp or get one from the camp. Work with your child to get everything together. It is not necessary to buy a lot of new gear; most camps will have extra supplies or resources that will ensure that each camper arrives at his or her cabin with all the essentials to have a successful time at camp.
  7. Encourage your child to have a “backyard sleep out” by pitching a tent in your backyard. This will give your son or daughter the freedom to navigate through their feelings of anxiety, curiosity and excitement within the safety and security of his or her own home.
  8. Go to the library and check out books about summer camp. Read it together by the light of your flashlight in the tent.
  9. When you arrive with your child at camp, make a point of meeting and connecting with the camp staff, so your child can see that you are interested in and trust the people that will be caring for him.
  10. When you do camp drop off, takes lots of pictures and SMILE! No tears until you drive away and know that this will be a memorable time in your child’s life. It’s only a week and they will learn soooo much!