Helpful Tips for a Successful Transition into Camp
The beginning of camp can evoke feelings of excitement and nervousness for both parents and children alike. One of our primary goals is to create a fun and safe environment at camp where your child feels confident to try new things, take risks, and make new friends. Remember, each camper is unique and will handle this process in their own way. As we approach summer, below are some tips on how to help prepare your child for their camp experience ahead.
Take advantage of any in-person or virtual meet and greets, or drive by the campus with your child to give them a sense of where they will be spending their time this summer.
Time can be a challenging concept for younger children. Create a countdown calendar to visually show them how many sleeps until camp starts.
Talk about it
When children know what is coming next, this lessons their anxiety and promotes more positive behavior. Set aside time daily to review the camp schedule at night or in the morning with your camper.
Children thrive on consistency and predictability. As much as you can, maintain a sense of normalcy with your child’s sleep schedule and bedtime routine. Also work to develop a consistent departure routine in the morning (i.e., two hugs and kiss).
Keep mornings calm
Getting out the door in the morning can be a challenge for many families. Try preparing the night before with your camper by laying out clothes, packing a lunch, and getting their backpack ready to go. Wake your child early enough to complete your routine calmly and consider practicing it a few days before camp begins. Younger children benefit from a visual schedule to help them manage their morning tasks (i.e., brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc.).
Involve your child
Take your child to the store with you to shop for camp clothes and other items. Let your child help to pack their lunch or pick out their swimsuit. Allowing them to pick out these items will help them feel excited about embarking on a new adventure.
At home, provide your child with opportunities to play alone and surprise you with a creation (i.e., a picture they color or structure they build). This will then carry over to camp and you can say, “I can’t wait to hear about your day when I pick you up and learn about all of the fun surprises you had at camp!”
Talk about making new friends:
Making friends is a skill that can be difficult for some children. By role-playing with your child on different ways to start conversations with kids their age, you will give him the confidence to try it. You can also get books from the library about making friends and going to camp (see recommendations below).
Same vs. different
If your child has been to camp before, talk to them about what will be the same vs. what will be different this year (i.e., will they have to wear a mask, which friends are attending, etc.).
Check in regularly on how your child is feeling. Consider making this a part of your morning/end of day routine. Ask open ended questions like, “Hmmm…I wonder what might be making you feel sad/mad/excited.” Validate their feelings and remember to send the message that all feelings are ok, feelings can change, and you can feel more than one feeling at a time.
It can be expected that your child may come home exhausted, irritable and/or hungry. However, if you see an increase in other concerning behaviors, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Camp Director or on-site Camper Care specialist.
Your attitude counts
Children are very in-tune with their parents. They notice when you are feeling anxious or uncertain. A successful camp experience occurs when parents and caregivers can confidently reassure their child they are in a safe and fun place. If you are feeling particularly anxious or uncertain, our team is here as a support and can consult with you further.
Read books to your camper ahead of time about separation and reunion, as well as making new friends.
- I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas (Ages 2-5 years)
- Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney (Ages 2-5 years)
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (Ages 3-7 years)
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (Ages 3-8 years)
- How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friendsby Jane Yolen (2-5 years)
- How Little Leigh Made Friendsby Sally Huss (Ages 3-7 years)
- How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them by Laurie Krasny Brown (Ages 3-7 years)
- Making Friends Is an Artby Julia Cook (Ages 5-10 years)
We are super excited for camp to begin! Through open communication and ongoing collaboration, we are confident that your child will have a successful transition and positive camp experience.