How do you know if your child is ready for summer camp? While every child is different, here are a few signs that indicate a camper’s readiness:
- Is your child interested in summer camp?
Was summer camp his idea, or did you broach the subject? If the suggestion came from you, did your child react with enthusiasm or with hesitancy? Children who are excited and eager have a better chance of success with their first summer camp experience.
- Has your child been away overnight or longer?
Successful overnight stays away from home and parents are a good indication of a positive camp experience. Most children have some degree of homesickness when they’re away, but the transition is generally easier for the child that enjoys sleepovers with friends.
What if your child hasn’t slept away, or you got that middle of the night “please pick me up” phone call? Do some trial runs – a few nights with grandparents or a night or close friends. If your child is still unsure, it might be wise to start with a day camp, providing a taste of the summer camp experience without the potential trauma of bunking away from home.
- Is your child adventurous and eager to try new things?
The pace at summer camp is often fast and furious, with new activities and experiences every day. Successful campers are eager to embrace the new opportunities, try different things, and take on each day.
This isn’t to say the timid or reserved child will not enjoy camp, but that child may have a bit more difficulty making the adjustment, and might do better at a camp with a little more downtime, or even at a day camp for the first year or two.
- Is your child independent and self-sufficient?
Your child should be able to manage personal hygiene needs and daily tasks with little supervision or reminding. He should be able to bathe on his own, tend to his own clothing and belongings, and understand the daily schedule. Of course, attentive camp counselors will always be around to help and remind, but the more self-reliant your child is, the more likely he is to have a successful camp experience. If your child’s not quite self-sufficient, encourage independent behavior in the weeks before camp to make for a smoother transition.
- Does your child follow instructions?
If your child is typically well behaved at school and with authority figures, she is likely to do well with camp rules and structure. Even though summer camp is a place of crazy fun, without rules and restrictions it would be chaotic and potentially dangerous, so it’s important that campers arrive prepared to be cooperative and to follow rules. Respect for counselors, staff, and other campers is important for everyone’s safety and well-being.
Answering “yes” to all or most of these questions is a good indication that your child is ready for summer camp. If you answered “no” to several of the questions, consider waiting another year or sending your child to day camp. You want this first camp experience to be fun and exciting, not scary and overwhelming.
Is your camper ready for overnight camp? If so, call Pali Adventures today, where our outstanding staff and myriad activities ensure every camper has the experience of a lifetime.