How to Prepare Your Child for Summer Camp

Sending your child to camp for the first time can be somewhat nerve racking and stressful. Most children are excited to partake in a summer camp but some can be nervous or scared. It is important to prepare your child for camp in order for them to have the best experience possible. My first over night camp experience was when I was eight years old. I attended Camp Hurlbert in Vernon and after my initial trepidation wore off it was one of the most memorable and enjoyable times of my young life.

How to Prepare Your Child for Summer Camp

As an adult I have had the opportunity to coordinate summer camps for both the Boys and Girls Clubs and the YMCA. The benefits of these kinds of camps are often life changing. They foster independence in children and help them to build social skills that they will take with them into adulthood. Children build confidence and self worth, they try new things and meet new friends. They unplug from technology, become more physically active and develop a connection to nature and their surroundings.

Following a few simple steps and techniques will help both you and your child 
to have a wonderful summer camp experience.

  • Be positive. Talk with your child about all of the benefits of camp.
  • Include your child in the decision making process. Which camp should they attend? What activities are they interested in?
  • Explore camp together. Visit the campground or review the website. Many summer camps have family days in the spring to give families an opportunity to visit and become more familiar with the camp.
  • Discuss the daily routine at camp. What is to be expected of your child, the camper? What is the routine like? What activities will they be involved in?
  • Review the camp checklist together. Often camps will provide a checklist of recommended supplies to pack and bring. They might also offer a list of what not to bring. Be sure to go over these guidelines with your child.
  • Practice time apart. If your child is attending an overnight camp for the first time have them spend a night or two at a friends house a few months in advance.
  • Teach independence at home. Have your child follow their morning and bedtime routine on their own. Have them set the table, prepare a meal and wash dishes.
  • Speak openly about feeling homesick. Reassure your child that this is a normal, natural feeling and determine what steps that they should take when they feel this way.
  • Try to have a friend or acquaintance attend the same camp. As a first time camper, I know that I felt a lot better knowing that a friend was also there.
  • Ask your child if they have any questions or concerns. Just talking it through with them may elevate any fear or anxiety that they may have.   
Originally written and published for Okanagan 4 Kids.

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