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.
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?