Summer Camp Success: Tips to Make Your Child’s Camp Experience Great

Supplementing the year-round home school curriculum with summer camp is a great idea.  But along with this idea comes anxiety. Chances are, you and your child have the same fears: Walking into a gaggle of kids and parents. Everyone knowing everyone, except you. Getting lost on campus. Awkward moments at orientation. Your child -- eating alone at a far bench, friendless for the entire summer.

This nightmare does not have to be your child’s reality. Summer camp should, and can, be fun and rewarding.  This article will alleviate your fears by offering tips to make your child’s summer camp experience positive.

FACE IT.
Use social networks and good old email to help your child connect with other campers before the summer begins. Set up a fan page for the camp on Facebook.  On this fan page, campers and parents can chat, post questions, and give reminders. Encourage your child to email other campers.

GO AWAY. On the first day of camp, take your child to her destination, assist her in settling in, and then leave. Lingering parents create lingering feelings of doubt about being away from home. Homesickness is normal.  The sooner you leave, the sooner your child can establish her camp as a home away from home.

BE NOSY. To keep track of your child’s experience, get the names of directors, advisors, and other support staff. Develop a regular time to check in with a supervising adult.

BE PREDICTABLE. Set a time during which you will call your child each day. Routine check-ins are helpful, especially for parents of children enrolled in sleep-away programs. This daily conversation will ease anxiety for you and homesickness for your child.

ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE.
During the first days of camp, it is normal for your child to have complaints. To frame your child’s conversation in a positive way, use these starters: Tell me 3 good things that happened today. What was the best thing about your day? Tell me about all of the interesting kids and instructors you meet today.

ADDRESS CONCERNS. Of course, you should not ignore your child’s concerns. Listen and affirm any worries he has and then follow up using the camp’s advising system. If your child’s camp is local, pay an unannounced visit so that you can get a more candid assessment of your child’s experience.

Summer camp can be both exciting and anxious-making.  If you follow the tips above, then your child’s time at camp will be positive and successful.


James Guilford holds a Masters in Gifted Education from Columbia University. He is the author of the novel The Pencil Test and lives in New York City. Visit his website to download free lesson plans, articles, and other free resources.

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