After a lot of research, asking camp directors your questions, and talking with your children: you finally found the right camp! Now that you’re registered and have bought all your supplies, camp is around the corner. So what’s the best way for you, and your kids, to prepare for the excitement of camp? Here are a few tips and tricks to make the transition from home to camp easier.
Practice taking breaks and “unplugging” from technology. Most camps have rules and restrictions that don’t allow devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets (in an effort to encourage new friendships and outdoor activities). Since most of us are very dependent on our devices, practicing unplugging will be good for everyone.
Plan some sleepovers. If campers have never been away from home, or had a difficult time being away from home while at camp last year, it may be good to “practice” being away overnight by planning sleepovers at friends’ and relatives’ houses. This helps both kids and parents adjust to being apart.
Make a homesick plan. Talking to kids about homesickness and ways you can make being apart easier can help ease the fears of the unfamiliar. For more tips on making a homesick plan, check out our post.
Break in/Practice Using New Supplies and Equipment. If you’ve bought new supplies or equipment for camp activities [such as hiking boots, snorkels, or arts and crafts supplies], practice using them and “breaking them in”. This not only gives your child the chance to familiarize themselves with their equipment so they are more comfortable using it, but gives everyone a chance to get excited about camp activities.
If your child brings new/valuable/sentimental items to camp, label them. Many campers bring similar or identical items to camp, so labeling is a good idea, especially if your child brings sentimental items from home to help curb homesickness (like a special stuffed animal or toy).
Pack selfaddressed stamped envelopes. If you pack selfaddressed, stamped envelopes, your child can write you about all the fun they’re having at camp. Many camps offer the option to send a letter in advance, so that it will be waiting for your child. Or you can send a bundle of letters in the suitcase, for them to open one each day.
Do your best to stay positive when you miss your child. It is just as common for parents to be homesick as children. Try to frame this positively, to avoid exacerbating homesickness. For example, “I miss you, but I know camp is going great. Tell me about your favorite activity!”
Have “You” Time while your child is away. While your kids are away, plan to do things you might not be able to do so easily when they are at home. Have a weekend away, spend time with friends, or have a date night with your partner/spouse. If there are errands that need to be run, or if you’ve been wanting to deep clean, organize, or do home improvements, camp sessions are the perfect time to get it done!
Written by Laura Johnson, Founder and CEO of L eadership Academy in Nashville, TN. Laura is passionate about helping people find time to be outside and grow appreciation for nature and outdoor play. With this passion, Laura has spent her career as a professional Camp Director, operating summer camps and recreation facilities for over 16 years with Girl Scouts, YMCAs and other nonprofits. Her career focus is making a positive impact in the lives of children and young adults. Laura is a lover of the outdoors and is an avid hiker, sailor, paddler and adventureseeker in Nashville, Tennessee.