Tips to prepare your kids for camp
Published: January 25, 2023
By: Rebecca Hastings
One of the hardest things about sending kids to camp is knowing that you are not there, and worrying about the things that could happen. I remember thinking about my kids, worried about every scenario: What if they can’t sleep? What if they get hurt? What if they lose their towel?
My list of “what-ifs” was longer than the forms you fill out to send them to camp. And I wasn’t the only one; my kids had their own “what-ifs” as well.
When kids go to camp, you won’t be there to fix everything or answer every question. But you can help them feel prepared (and you feel a little more at ease) by having some “what-if” conversations before they leave.
What if I get hurt? The camp is trained to deal with all kinds of medical situations, from band-aids to broken bones and beyond. Talk about the staff they have available, and reassure your child that the nurse will contact you in an emergency.
What if I get lost? While the kids will likely spend time outdoors and be in new surroundings, kids are not left on their own. There is lots of staff and other kids that will always be around. Plus, there are always people where the fun stuff is.
What if someone tries to touch me or makes me feel uncomfortable? Say something. Always. Find another adult, go to the nurse, tell the counselor or lifeguard. While incidents like this are not common, it is important to talk about how to handle them. Staying in groups is another great way to help foster a safe, comfortable environment.
What if I lose my ______? It could be anything. A towel, swimsuit, a favorite stuffed bear that no one knows is hidden under the pillow. Things will get lost at camp. The best bet is to talk to your counselor for help. Camp is full of extras of things left behind by other kids, plus some just for this purpose. Kids don’t need to pretend or miss out on an activity if they lose something. There are always extras, a place to get things, or a friend who is willing to share.
What if I miss home? Your child won’t be the first and they won’t be the last to feel homesick. It’s one of the most common and expected struggles with going to camp. And they don’t have to suffer alone. Counselors, leaders, and staff are all trained to help kids who feel lonely or homesick. They can suggest ideas for feeling connected like writing a letter or sending a daily picture home, as well as finding activities and friends that can help.
What if I don’t make any friends? Going somewhere new, where you don’t know anyone, can feel scary. Remind kids that most of the other kids feel the same way. Camp is full of fun ways to help them make friends. From games to cabin time, to swimming and activities, there are tons of opportunities to meet new people and find a friend or two.
What if I’m scared of the dark? It can get pretty dark at night at camp. Bringing flashlights is always a good starting place. Another great tip is to bring a reading light and a book, this way kids don’t have to tell anyone they are scared they can just read before bed.
What if I don’t want it to end? This one is one of the most common problems kids face by the end of camp! They simply don’t want the fun to end. Remind them to share great memories with you, stay in touch with new friends, and be ready to sign up for next year!
Rebecca Hastings is a freelance writer.