It’s that time of the year again when making summer plans jumps to the forefront of all of our minds. Although the thought of falling into the same day camp routine as last summer might seem tempting, for many families, it is time to consider sending the kids to sleepaway camp. Sleepaway camp provides opportunities for campers to gain independence, build interpersonal skills, and explore new interests. Although day camp provides campers with fun and fulfilling summers, there is no comparison to the happiness and friendships that sleepaway camp can bring a child. After a few summers at day camp, sleepaway camp is a natural progression for children. While choosing sleepaway camp this summer might seem like a huge change, there are some steps you and your camper can take to make sure that the transition is easy for the whole family.
Include your camper in the decision-making process
Although you might be the chief decision maker, making your child feel like they are part of the discussion around camp can help to shape a positive attitude around their summer plans. Giving kids some say in their destiny helps children to take ownership for the decision to transition to sleepaway and can make a child more confident going into camp. Let your child weigh in pros and cons of sleepaway and day camp options and validate any worries they have about changing their summer routine. Be sure to research some camps in advance so you can highlight activities and events at your child’s potential sleepaway camp that will pique their interest and get them counting down the days until summer!
Plan some sleepovers
Practice makes perfect- and that is certainly the case when preparing your child for sleepaway camp. Give your child lots of opportunities to “practice” for heading off to camp by scheduling some sleepovers at a friend or family member’s house. Having your child spend a few nights away from home before camp can help them to become more comfortable with the idea of being away from their own bed for a portion of the summer.
Talk to the experts
Camps are well-trained in easing the transition for first-time campers. Camp directors and counselors alike have had plenty of experience helping children from all walks of life settle into the residential camp life, so rest assured that your camper will be in good hands. Contact your camp staff and let them know that your camper is leaving home for the first time and inform them of any concerns that you and your camper have. Many camps can arrange to have you meet up with other campers or counselors prior to heading off to camp so your child has a familiar face to look out for once they arrive at camp.
Don’t make camp an either/or
If your camper loved their day camp (there’s plenty to love at day camp!), be sure to let your camper know that going to sleepaway camp isn’t necessarily taking their beloved day camp’s place. Let your camper know that, like day camp, sleepaway camp is a great experience that they have the opportunity to try, and that doesn’t mean that it is replacing their tried and true day camp indefinitely. If it fits into your summer schedule and your budget, you might consider enrolling your child in both day camp and sleepaway camp so they can have the best of both worlds. Once campers experience the joy of residential camp, they’ll be too excited to even think about their previous camp!
Expect the best
In most cases, the transition to sleepaway is over before it even begins. Once your child gets to camp, they will likely be swept up into the excitement of new activities and the opportunity to make new friends. The majority of campers hit the ground running and acclimate to camp with ease. Expect the transition to go smoothly and make sure your camper knows that you have confidence in them. A confident camper is a happy camper!
The decision to transition to sleepaway camp is a big one but one that you won’t regret. In many cases, the transition is more difficult on parents than it is on children, so take a deep breath and rest assured that your camper is going to be just fine. With a little preparation and a positive attitude, sending your child off to summer camp will go off without a hitch!