Sending Your Child To Camp? Here Are Some Pre-Camp Tips!

Advice from camp experts:

Be positive.
Avoid saying, “I’m really going to miss you,” says Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association. “The child doesn’t need to walk off with that burden. Instead, say, ‘I’m going to be so excited to hear about your camping experiences.“ If you have anxiety, Smith says, tell your friend or your spouse, not your child.

Be confident in your child’s ability.
Some parents send a child off with the warning, “If you’re unhappy, you call me,” Smith says. That sets up a negative expectation. It’s natural to want to be protective, but “one of a parent’s jobs is to increase a child’s independence.”

Be reassuring.
“If there are problems at school, parents tend to get involved,” but that doesn’t happen at camp, says author Bob Ditter, a child and family therapist in Boston and specialist on kids and camping. Before camp begins, he suggests telling children that “we’re not going to be there, but your camp counselor will be there, so if you’re having trouble fitting in, talk to your counselor.’’ Homesickness is natural, and counselors are well-trained to handle it, Smith says. In the vast majority of cases, it passes quickly.

Let kids know what to expect.
Whether they go to day camp or overnight camp for a week or seven weeks, campers are part of a community, Ditter says, and will be expected to help out. “Kids don’t clean their rooms the way they used to,” he says, “but they do at camp. All camps have kids participate to some extent in cleanup. That’s foreign to a lot of kids, and parents need to prepare them for that.”

Leave the gadgets at home.
Camps usually send lists of what to pack, but in general, Smith says, pack comfortable, broken-in (not new) shoes and clothing, and leave the electronic games, cellphones and other gadgets at home. “There’s a whole generation of parents who are hyper-alert,” connected via text message to their children at all times, she says. Camps offer an unplugged alternative, but many post camp activity photos or videos each day, and will deliver e-mail messages from parents.

These Great Tips Came From A USA Today Article from June 7, 2011

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