For many families, summer brings on a busy schedule of swimming, vacations, day camps, sports camps and drumroll please…sleep-away camp!
For many parents, sending their child to sleep-away camp is both a proud milestone and an anxiety-inducing process. If you find yourself sending your camper off to overnight camp here are some tips for you!
1) Bring comfort items to camp!
Your camper is probably experiencing a mix of both excitement and nervousness as they prepare for their adventure; let your child channel those emotions into the preparation process. Allow your child to pack a few special items from home to combat homesickness, such as comic books, journal, favorite pictures, stuffed animal etc. Having familiar/comforting items packed away can ease the camper’s nervousness, and ensure they can self- sooth/ self-regulate.
Pro-tip: Think small! Don’t let your camper take EVERYTHING. The more stuff that goes to camp, the more that ends up in lost and found!
2) Combatting Homesicknesses– Communicate from afar!
Usually, your camper will be ecstatic to show off their independence and head to sleep-away camp; but even the most independent kid can get homesick.Here are a few ways to help from afar:
· Don’t: Tell your camper they can call anytime and you will pick them up (They will hold you to this!)
· Do: Send post cards, bunk notes, and packages! Mail time is the highlight of the day when you are at camp. The kids who patiently wait for the letter that never comes are more prone to convince the counselor that they need to go home!
· Don’t: Make your camper feel guilty for your loneliness. Keep the letters positive, don‘t let your camper feel as though they are missing out on family time.
· Do: Take your own mini vacation! Take some time for yourself!
3) Prep your camper (and yourself!) for little-to-no technology!
Most camps have pretty strict rules concerning technology, so here are some practical ways to stay in touch and allow your camper to document their adventures sans Instagram and Snapchat.
· Include self-addressed and stamped envelopes or postcards- this will allow your camper to easily drop you a line, rather than wait for camp store hours, and attempt to remember to buy postage.
· Include a disposable camera: digital cameras are another option but have been known to “disappear”, run out of batteries, or tragically break on that canoe trip.
· Refresh: Check out camp pictures online- many camps post pictures daily on a secure site, so parents can see what their adventurer has been experiencing and doing with their new friends. Don’t assume the worst when you don’t see your child in a picture for a day or two.
And lastly, remind your camper to have fun and that you love them! Remind yourself to practice self-care and enjoy your summer too!