We’ve spent months pining for summer, and now it’s here! Summer brings sunshine, BBQ’s, the beach, and…camp. While summer camp can be an experience your child will never forget, it can be initially challenging for many children.
Whether your little guy is trying out camp for a few hours a week, or your teen is off to sleepaway camp for most of the summer, there are things you can do to ease the transition for them. (And for you!) Here’s how to prepare your kids emotionally for time away.
Little Kids (ages 3-6)
If your child marches into pre-k without even a glance in your direction, lucky you. Many, however, don’t like new places or people, and will cling to you. (And howl.) If this is your child, you can help them feel more comfortable by talking about all the fun things they’ll be doing at camp. Visit the building, walk the grounds, and peer in the windows to familiarize them with the space. If camp is late in the summer, see if you can visit beforehand to see it in action. Inquire about playdates with other campers. These things can help your child emotionally, but they can also help you!
Medium – Big Kids (ages 7+)
The above tactics also apply to this age group, with some additions: Sign them up for camps where they’ll know other campers, which can greatly ease the transition. Rather than assuming what they’re thinking and feeling, ask– invite them air their concerns so you can address them. Make sure they know how to get in touch with you while at camp. If they do not have their own phone, find out how they can call you if need be. If they are going to sleepaway camp, pack addressed/stamped envelopes so they can easily write to you, and write them while they’re away, enclosing photos if you can. Those little letters will mean a lot.
Remember, summer camp is supposed to be FUN! Sending your child away for the day or for the whole summer might be hard at first, but if you keep open lines of communication, it can be a joyful experience for them and for you.