Sleepaway camp is a big step for many kids as they grow and learn to become more independent. For parents and kids alike, it can be difficult to decide the right time to take the plunge and start attending a residential camp. While you may feel apprehensive about sending your child to overnight summer camp for the first time, you might be surprised by the positive transformation you’ll see at the end of the camp session.
Not only does overnight camp provide kids with the opportunity to make lifelong friendships and life-changing memories, studies show that overnight camp also improves overall happiness in many children and can help kids learn how to navigate social situations later in life.
Many veterans of overnight camps say that during their camp career, they made friends that they still keep in touch with many years later. At sleepaway camp, kids engage in social interaction that they would not otherwise be exposed to. For many, those late-night chats just before lights out, or cheering on a fellow camper in a new activity or experience are the moments that make overnight camp truly unique. For some kids, overnight camp might be their first chance to sleep away from home, to make decisions independent from their parents, and to navigate a day filled with their own choices. It can be a good first step to establishing self-esteem, self-confidence, and independence.
If you’re wondering how to help your child make friends, putting them in an environment that encourages teamwork and trust is essential. At Pali, we offer over 20 different specialties which means that your child will spend time with kids who have similar interests and make friends that last a lifetime.
Sleepaway camp can also help to instill a sense of cooperation, empathy, responsibility, and respect as kids learn to live together and find common ground that unites instead of differences that divide.
Many sleepaway camps have a no-cellphone or no-technology policy. Taking time to step away from the screen can help kids practice mindfulness and feel more present. At Pali Adventures, we have a strict no-cellphone policy, which you can read more about on our website.
Pali Adventures participated in a UCLA study that explored the benefits of unplugging while away at camp. Results of the study showed increased social awareness after only 5 days of being “unplugged”. You can read more about our participation and the results of the study here.
For many families, the parents have a harder time saying goodbye than the kids. For many campers, overnight camp is an important step in learning to think independently in an environment separate from parents, school, and home friends.
Sleepaway camp is a great opportunity to teach kids how to make independent choices and decisions while in a safe and controlled environment. When children arrive back from summer camp they may take a more proactive role in helping out around the house, cooking their meals, or keeping their bedroom clean. Overnight camp can help to nurture a sense of confidence that would otherwise take longer to develop.
Some campers may be likely to experience a mild case of homesickness. Camp staff are trained to work with campers to assure they feel safe, are fully engaged in activities, and any pangs of homesickness are addressed with empathy and support. It is important for parents to be supportive of their child’s overnight camp experience – focusing on all of the positive aspects and not dwelling on verbalizing that they will be missed or what they will miss out on at home. The process of working through homesickness and finding the confidence to get through it is one of the most valuable growth experiences camp provides!
For some youngsters (often around the age of eight), sleepaway camp may sound like a good idea when you have casual conversations about it. But when faced with the prospect of actually heading off to camp for an entire week, you may discover that your child isn’t quite ready. The combination of their young age and maturity level could make camp a scary thing.
Being away from home can be a challenging experience for young kids, but at Pali Adventures, our highly trained camp counselors know what to look out for when it comes to kids who have fears about sleepaway camp. Our counselors are extra sensitive to the needs of children in this age group and take extra care to ensure they feel at home while being away. As a rule, kids in this age group are always bunked with their peers, who in many cases share similar reservations about sleepaway camp.
If you feel that your child is right on the verge of being ready for sleepaway camp, the best thing you can do to help prepare them is to be as transparent as possible about what to expect. Sit down and make going through the enrollment package a fun and safe experience for them, giving plenty of reasons to see the exciting experience they have to look forward to, rather than focusing on being away from home for a week.
Most of all, let them know that camp counselors know exactly what they’re going through, and are on hand through the whole camp experience, ready to provide them with support and encouragement whenever they need it.
At the end of the day, it’s up to your family to decide the best time to attend sleepaway camp–most importantly, your child. Every child has different needs, and every child will benefit from overnight camp in a different way.
Talk to your child about whether or not they are interested in trying out overnight summer camp. Keep in mind that it can help to quell nerves by visiting the camp ahead of time, where you can meet any available staff members so that your child has a better idea of what to expect.