A family preparing to send a child to a ‘first ever’ summer camp will likely experience a lot of emotional peaks and valleys. For parents and children alike, there will be rushes of excitement and maybe even a twinge of uncertainty. Something new naturally creates a mixed bag of emotions. Once those timid thoughts are conquered by all the ‘positives’ a child is about to be a part of camp, it’s time to get everything in order to make it a pleasant success.
It’s About the Children
Parents may have fond memories about summer camps they attended and may naturally want their children to attend the same camp. It may seem like a great idea, but it’s best to include the child in the overall decision of which camp they would like to attend.
Focusing on the current main interest of a child is a great place to start. Is it athletics? Is it academics? Is it drama? There are several camp options available for today’s youth. Giving the child a feeling of ‘ownership’ is a fantastic start to making the camp experience very rewarding.
Prepare the Child for Success
Verify with camp counselors what the child needs to bring to camp, what forms need to be signed (including any Legal Disclaimer or Health Form) prior to camp attendance. As for what the child brings or wears, ask specifics. Taking a child shopping for new sneakers and T-shirts may accelerate the excitement level of a child, but doing so when the camp suggest slightly worn clothes due to the nature of the camp (football, field hockey, e.g.) may turn out to be wasting money.
If camp activities are mainly outdoors a must-bring list should include:
- Loose-fit clothing
- Proper footwear
- Change of socks/T-shirts
Other possible questions to ask:
- How are the children grouped? Age? Skill level?
- What steps are taken by the camp counselors to address discipline concerns?
- How does the camp address a discouraged first-time camper?
Parents need to arrive at drop-off/pick-up sites ahead of time. If there is a traffic tie-up, etc. have the camp phone number available to relay such a reason for a delay. Also, make certain the camp can easily access parents in the event of a child accident or illness.