Home Parenting Tips to Prepare Your Child for Her First Overnight Summer Camp

Tips to Prepare Your Child for Her First Overnight Summer Camp

by Vidya Sury April 23, 2018 6 comments
Tips to Prepare Your Child for Her First Overnight Summer Camp #parenting #summercamp #tips

Summer. Holidays. Time outdoors, barbecues, picnics, hitching up that tent and sleeping under the stars.

For some kids, the possibility of summer camp, probably for the first time. Summer camps are a great way to learn to be independent and develop self-confidence.

Now, while the anticipation is fun and the thought of spending time with friends is exciting, the thought of leaving home, not so much! In fact, it can be downright scary–both for parents as well as the kids, especially if it is the first time.

Letting go is never easy and when fear raises its creepy head, it can be even worse. You are probably thinking of that first day at school when your heart turned to mush as you saw her walk away. I certainly cried all the way home after I dropped my son off at playschool, while he happily toddled away, holding the teacher’s hand.

But sending your child to camp need not be a challenge! You can build up the excitement of the adventure that’s waiting for them, together. As you count down to D day, you’ll be reinforcing why your kids should look forward to and not dread the coming days.

Start off with short duration camps.

Tips to Prepare Your Child for Her First Overnight Summer Camp #parenting #summercamp #tips

Camps are a wonderful opportunity to mix with new people, learn important skills, develop self-confidence and discover one’s own strengths.

Before your child leaves for summer camp

  • As a first step, make sure your child is involved in all the decisions you’re making in relation to the camp. No secrecy and springing it on them out of the blue! Preparation is key. Talk to them about what is ahead. Encourage them to focus on the good things about camp. Often, kids have the most irrational fears about something and when they overcome these, everything looks bright again.
  • If they enjoy camping in the backyard–extra points to you!
  • Let them help with the packing. Since you probably have a list from the camp, allow them to help get their things together. If they have a favorite stuffed toy or blankie, let them take it along.
  • No need to hide the negative stuff. But focus on the good parts.
  • As the parent, make sure you complete the camp’s forms with all the details about your child including special information such as any health issues.
  • Don’t go overboard over saying goodbye after you drop your child off. Do take a look around their living space and once they settle in, assure them they’ll have a wonderful time and just leave.

Once your child is at camp

Do not fill your letters /emails with how much you miss your child – this will make her sad. Resist giving detailed accounts of what is happening at home – this will make her miss you more. Just stick to keeping in touch just a few times during the week. While writing, remember to be positive and focus on her. Let her know that you hope she’s having a great time.

Rules are not to be broken

Follow camp policy about communicating with your child, or she’ll have a tough time over it.

Don’t give into temptation

It can be so easy to give in and tell your child that if things don’t go well you can bring her right back home. Don’t do it as you’ll be passing on the message that it is okay to leave without giving the place a chance. It is only natural that she’ll miss home and you can rest assured that the folks at the camp have the  experience to handle it. If there is a serious problem, they will call you.

If your child has siblings, why not click a photo of them together so they can look at it whenever they like?

As far as the camp is concerned, make sure you check it out. If you know other kids who have gone camping, how about having them over to talk to your child about the happy side?

Before you know it, your child will be eager to tell you her own camp stories. And yes, you’re going to feel a bit sad, too – but remember that camp can be a valuable experience for your child.

When they return from camp, encourage them to talk about their experience and perhaps, even write about them!

Do you send your child to summer camp?

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Ramya Abhinand April 24, 2018 at 1:43 pm

The first time the child leaves home on a summer camp, is suely a moment of anxiety for the parent. It all boils down to also preparing them on what to expect and the means to be safe. Does reduce a great load of anxiety on the parent 🙂

Birgit April 24, 2018 at 7:19 pm

My mom sent me to camp. I don’t remember if I wanted to go or not or if she signed me up without me knowing…it was back in the 70s but I recall thinking people won’t know me and I won’t be bullied but I was wrong. I was there for a week and was bullied and laughed at in my tent by mainly one dumb ass girl. I did enjoy looking for bugs and creating candles out of the sand. There were things I liked and I do remember the campfires and sleeping in my dad WW2 sleeping bag. I know I called home asking to be picked up but my mom said to stick it out….her heart was in the right place and later, she told me she cried and cried but was told it would be good for me.

Felicia Austin September 18, 2019 at 7:35 pm

So, my children have never been away for the whole summer. The most my daughter has been away at a camp was girl scout camp and that was only for a weekend lol. The longest I’ve been away from my kids was 3 days when I flew up to see my dad get married to my amazing bonus mother. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do when they go off to college. I remember when my son had his first sleep over at someone else’s house..I had my phone right beside me all night and I think I didn’t go to sleep until 3am. Of course he had a blast and was ok, but still lol

Diane September 19, 2019 at 2:51 am

I never went to sleep away summer camp – just day camp which was offered at the local elementary school ( or church). The first time I was away from my parents was the summer before my senior year of high school – I took a week-long class at the art institute of Philadelphia. My parents walked me in and stayed with me for about 5 minutes while I was in line to check-in, then they left. They knew I could figure everything else on my own, and that If they stayed I would just want them to do everything for me. I know it had to be hard on them to just leave but I was planning on going away to college, so a one week trial a summer ahead of time was a great way to get an idea of what to expect.
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Leana Lourens September 19, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Oohwee this is luckily still very far away haha. I don’t even want to think of it. It is so natural for parents to panick about everything but sometime we will have to give them the opportunity to grow. Nice tips 😘

Nicole Steyn September 19, 2019 at 12:42 pm

I don’t even have kids yet, and the thought of sending them away for a night terrifies me. I have a feeling I’m going to be a nervous parent. But definitely going to bookmark your blog with all this helpful advice. Thank you!


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