With the vacations here, most parents opt to send their children camping. Camps were not a popular vacation choice earlier but today with the wide variety of options such as weekend camps, trekking, adventure learning camps and so on, parents and children have a number of options to choose from.
Whether your child is going for the first time or fifth consecutive season, being prepared helps ease the transition to camp and improves the chances that the camping experience will be rewarding and memorable.
Here are some tips on how you can help your child get ready for camp.
Tip 1- Majority wins:
Ask for your child’s input on what type of camp they would like to attend. Your idea of camp could mean educating and inculcating independence on your child, while your child may want to choose a camp that’s pure fun. So select a camping option that makes both you and your child happy.
Tip 2- Practice independence:
Before your child goes off alone be sure that he/she c can handle living away from home. Can your child manage basic self-care such as brushing teeth, changing clothes, bathing and eating alone? A good idea would be to arrange an overnight or weekend stay with a friend or relative. This way, your child can experience sleeping somewhere new and different.
Tip 3- Ensure your child is ready for camp:
Make sure your child is healthy enough to attend camp. Don’t send a sick or injured child to camp. Talk about eating right and getting enough sleep, but don’t worry too much. Kids do just fine even if they stay up too late or don’t like every meal the camp serves.
Tip 4- Visit the camp:
This will help familiarize your camper with the new surroundings and instill a sense of confidence. If visiting is not possible then read brochures, visit the camp’s website or view an online video. Talk about the camp activities and what your son or daughter can expect. Remember to always focus on the positive fun of camp.
Tip 5: Pre- flight checks!
Review the Parent-Camper Handbook or similar materials sent by the camp. Camps will inform families of what to bring (and what not to bring) and what the child can expect while at camp. Make sure that the camp organizers are safety conscious and responsible. Kids will need to protect themselves against illness, injury and uncomfortable social situations. Discuss the camp rules in advance. Let them know that you expect them to follow the rules and be respectful while at camp.
Tip 6- Packing:
Prepare a checklist of items needed for camp and work with your child to put the list together. Camps usually prohibit electronic devices, food and dangerous items like knives, fireworks and matches. Let your child help pack for camp so he or she knows where things are and can manage unpacking without a hassle. Label all personal property so it can found when lost.
REMEMBER: Pack a camera so your child can capture the fun memories.!
Tip 7- Handle homesickness:
Avoid telling your child “I’ll pick you up if you feel homesick.” Let them know you are there but they need to stick it out during this new experience. Most camps discourage making phone calls, and encourage writing letters instead. Pack personal items from home such as a favourite stuffed animal or family photo. Pack letter writing materials, pre-address and stamp envelopes. Encourage your child to write home as often as they wish to do so.
With a little extra TLC and planning ahead, you can be confident your child will enjoy this first positive step toward independence.
(Published in RobinAge, October 2009)