Regardless of how excited your child is for summer camp, there are a few key things that you should do to make sure they are ready when departure day arrives. You can help your child prepare for summer camp by taking a few measures long before camp even begins.
If it is your child’s first year at summer camp, they most likely haven’t spent weeks away from home. You can expect it to be much different than a day away at school or a night away for a sleepover with a friend. Preparing for summer camp ahead of time will help your child feel more equipped to take on a few weeks, or a full summer, away from home.
Get ready for summer camp with a few sleepovers away from home. Sleepovers are a great way to gauge how comfortable your child will be when spending the night in an environment that’s outside of their comfort zone. Try a sleepover at a friend’s house, or even a weekend away at a family member’s home for practice.
After the sleepover, ask how your child felt. Did they encounter any problems? Could they fall asleep easily? This will help you gauge how prepared your child is for sleepaway camp and what you may need to work on before they go.
If they encountered issues or felt anxious, don’t worry. One tough sleepover doesn’t mean they can’t handle sleepaway camp. Consider waiting a few weeks and giving it another try. It may be helpful to let your child attend sleepover birthday parties with other children their age. Sleeping over at a friend’s house may be a more realistic way to mimic sleepaway camp since everyone will have lights out at the same time. Additionally, it may help your child mentally just knowing that other children are in the same situation as them.
Get the ball rolling ahead of time when it comes to preparing for sleepaway camp. Give both you and your child enough time to mentally prepare. If your test sleepover didn’t go well the first time, then you’ll want to have enough time to try again. While sleepaway camp often begins in June, if your child needs to become more comfortable sleeping away from home, you may want to start preparing them in the few months leading up to camp.
Furthermore, make sure you have all vaccines and a physical exam completed well ahead of time. Have your child get a haircut, and checked for lice, too. That way, you won’t be scrambling the day before it’s time to leave. [B1]
Make sure your child has the right gear no matter what the weather. Be sure to pack sunscreen for sunny days, bug spray for evenings around the fire, and raingear. You may also want to pack a few pairs of waterproof t-shirts [B2] and shorts just in case. Make sure your child tries on all clothing well ahead of time to make sure it still fits. While sneakers are a camp essential, they can easily become waterlogged, so make sure to pack a pair of rain boots or galoshes for those muddy days, and of course, lots of extra socks!
Be sure to know the climate of your camp. Warm days and cold nights require the full spectrum of clothing options. There is nothing better than a cool summer’s night, unless you are without the right sweatshirt, blanket or beanie.
When it comes to skincare, practice applying sunscreen with them—there may or may not be someone at camp to make sure that every inch of your child’s skin is protected, so it’s best they know how to do it themselves. To make the job easier, check out products such as wipes, sticks and pump sprays as opposed to a lotion which could be messy or sticky.
This tip is specifically for parents—make sure you know all of the emergency phone numbers and addresses should you need to get ahold of someone at camp. Be aware of the camp’s phone call policies. At Pali Adventures, phone calls to campers are prohibited, however you can always contact a staff member to talk to you about your camper or in the event of an emergency.
Prepare care packages and letters to send to your child throughout the camp session. Slip a little note inside of your child’s camp luggage, or send cards or letters ahead of time so it arrives before your child gets to camp.
Make sure that your child understands that you expect your child will have an amazing time camp. Encourage your child to try new things, make new friends, and make the best out of their time away from home.
If you feel like you have to make your child a promise about the outcome of camp, then make a promise to go to the beach when they return, or to go out to get ice cream at the end of the camp session. If your child struggles with homesickness or making friends, they will still be able to leave victorious and with a sense of accomplishment as long as they finish the camp session.
For more information and tips on preparing your child for sleepaway camp, visit the Pali blog.