Summer break is just around the corner and campers are counting down the days until they head off to camp. Before any camper can saddle up for a trail ride or head out to the ropes course, a whole lot of steps have to be taken on the homefront to ensure that they are thoroughly prepared for their summer away. Getting kids ready for a summer at camp can be a daunting task, but here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you to make sure your camper is well prepared and excited for their adventures at camp.
Do make a packing list
Most camps send out a packing list, but in the event that you don’t have one, it is a good idea to write out a loose plan of what you intend to pack. Be sure to pack clothing and shoes that will allow your camper to participate in a wide variety of activities and will allow your child to be confident and comfortable while doing so. Check the camp’s website for any spirit days or events you might want to pack special outfits for. And don’t forget to throw in some sunscreen!
Don’t pack more than is necessary
Keep in mind that your child will be living in a bunk with several other kids, and the more you pack, the more stuff your child will have to be responsible for. Packing hundreds of outfits will only result in a messy bunk and likely, a lot of lost clothing. Don’t pack things that are uncomfortable or that your child doesn’t like to wear. Keep it simple and when in doubt, less is more!
Do talk to your camper about the possibility of homesickness
Discussing the possibility of homesickness can help a camper be better prepared to cope if they do indeed find themselves missing home during their time at camp. Make sure to let your camper know that homesickness is normal and talk through some strategies for handling it. Keep your conversations positive and encouraging- remind your camper that you are confident in their ability to be successful and how sure you are that they will have a blast at camp.
Don’t expect the worst
As a parent, you send your kids to camp because you know that your child will learn, grow, and most importantly, have endless amounts of fun, so don’t second guess yourself! Send your kids to camp full of positivity and your kids will surely get the most out of their summer. Ditch the “pickup plan” for just in case they don’t like camp. Promising you will pick up your camper if they don’t like camp only works to plant seeds of doubt into your camper’s mind and could cause your kids to head off to camp with unnecessary stress. Encourage your camper to head into this new experience with an open mind and get them excited about their summer plans.
Do pack postcards, stationery, and stamps for your camper
There’s no better way to encourage your kids to communicate with you during their stay at camp than by sending them with some awesome cards that they can’t wait to get writing on. Help your camper to pick out a pack of stationary or two and get ready for the mail to pour in. Kids these days don’t usually have a lot of experience with snail mail, so make sure you give your camper a quick review of how to address an envelope. For younger campers, you might opt to send your camper with several pre-addressed and stamped envelopes to help facilitate a smooth letter writing process while away.
Don’t help your camper hide a cell phone in their luggage
We get it- you are dying to hear from your camper after their first day or two at camp, but helping your child to break camp rules is a recipe for disaster. Hiding contraband items, like cell phones, in your camper’s luggage will only force your camper to sneak around and could lead to disciplinary action- not an enjoyable way to spend the first days at camp. Reassure your camper that, despite what they might believe, it is indeed possible to survive a couple of weeks without checking their Snapchat and help them to part ways with their beloved iPhone.
Do make sure to send your camper some positive letters or emails on the first few days of camp
The first few days of camp can be nerve-wracking for both you and your camper, but sending encouraging messages to your kids can bring some peace of mind to you both. Tell your camper how excited you are for them and all the opportunities that camp is going to provide them with. Don’t be discouraged if your camper doesn’t respond right away- the first couple of days at camp are especially busy, but we’re sure you’ll hear from your camper in no time.
Don’t fixate on what your camper is missing out on at home
Life goes on, even when the kids are at camp, but don’t make your kids feel like they are being left out of fun happenings at home. Instead of telling your camper every detail of what you are doing without them, be conscious of how your camper will feel reading your letters. Hearing about family events or trips that are taking place while they are away can encourage homesickness, so be sure to keep your letters upbeat.
Going to camp is the opportunity of a lifetime, and getting your kids prepared will make your camper feel confident and excited about their camp adventure. There is no time like the present to start getting your camper mentally and physically ready for an unforgettable summer so get to packing, building the enthusiasm, and making a game plan for camp because your campers are in for the time of their lives!