A little kid-free time would be dreamy, wouldn’t it? Time to rekindle your romance, enjoy a little ‘me’ time, or even just the chance to clean the house sounds divine–in theory. There’s just one problem. How do you survive packing up your child–the apple of your eye–and shipping them off to camp without becoming thoroughly unhinged?
Do these young campers look like they are pining for home?
It’s all about preparation–readying both you and your child for what will likely become one of their most treasured childhood experiences.
Do Some Emotional Prep
Preparing for camp involves overcoming the fears that both you–yes, that’s right, you–and your child are harboring.
- Don Your ‘Game Face.’ First of all, you may be relieved to know that it is perfectly normal for a parent to experience anxiety when sending their child off to camp. The trick is to keep these fears from your child and put on a facade of bravery and enthusiasm. ‘The Stress-Free Way to Send Your Kids to Camp’ warns that kids are highly perceptive and that your stress could impact them negatively, creating tension around what should be an exciting adventure. So smile and muscle through.
- Highlight the Positives. By sharing the great things about camp with your child, you will assuage both their negative feelings and yours. After all, camp will be a time of great fun, creating new relationships, learning new skills, and experiencing a taste of independence–all things to look forward to.
- Boost Their Confidence. Part of your child’s misgivings are likely due to their apprehension about dealing with the unknown. In order to help them overcome these fears, you will need to let them know that you have complete faith in their ability to overcome any challenges they face.
Do Some Practical Prep
Now that you are emotionally prepared, you will need to engage in some practical preparations.
- De-Mystify Camp. If you want your child to look forward to camp, you will need to provide him or her with an actual schedule of events and list of activities. In fact, ‘Sending the Kids to Summer Camp’ recommends that you try some of the novel activities ahead of time, enabling her to experience them for the first time with you–building her confidence.
- Provide Answers. If your child has questions about camp, be sure to answer them as thoroughly as possible. And, if you do not have the answers, contact a camp leader to find out.
- Pack. While some necessities are obvious–like toiletries and clothing–there are a few other items that you will not want to forget to pack. Some of these include: swim gear, sun block and sun glasses, insect repellant, your child’s medications, a flashlight and batteries, sleepwear, rain gear, a pillow, your contact information, and a plush friend.
- Keep Communication Open. A great way to help your child ride out those first difficult days at camp is to send a letter a few days before camp begins, so that they will receive it when they first arrive. According to ’10 Things to Mail Your Child at Summer Camp,’ a letter from their pet is a great way to give them updates on family events without making them homesick. A letter from their hamster’s perspective, for example, keeps things light and funny, while giving them something to share with their friends.
As you drive away with their sad, beseeching eyes peering in your direction, remember what you have learned here. No matter how pathetic they may look right now, they are about to embark on an incredible adventure–one filled with broad smiles, hearty giggles, and brand new friends. So, go home, put your feet up, and relax. Your child is in a happy place.
What is your fondest memory from summer camp?