Are you considering sending your child to summer camp this year? If it’s the first time you’ve been separated for any length of time, both child and parent can experience some anxiety. However, a little advance planning can make the sleepaway camp experience a truly unforgettable one.
The Benefits of Sleepaway Summer Camp
What are some of the benefits of summer camp? Well, for starters, there are some obvious advantages. It will occupy your child’s time, lessen the chance that they’ll spend all summer whining about being bored, keep them from spending three months glued to their phone or game console, and help you stay sane! There’s nothing wrong with any of those perks, of course, but going to camp will also help your children:
- Develop social skills and make new friends
- Build their self-esteem and confidence
- Learn new things and have new experiences
- Become more independent and self-reliant
What Types of Camp Experiences Are Available?
These days, summer camp doesn’t have to mean swimming in an icy lake, sleeping on a lumpy cot, and waking up at the crack of dawn with reveille. There is an astonishing array of camp opportunities, which means you can find one tailored to your child’s interests and abilities.
There are sports camps that teach the fundamentals of tennis, baseball, basketball, soccer, cheerleading, and volleyball. Your budding fashion designer could hone his skills at a fashion summer camp — and return home in the fall with some killer back-to-school duds! A more cerebral child might enjoy learning video game design, robotics, coding, animation, or app development. A child who dreams of being on Broadway someday will jump at the chance to attend a performing arts camp.
Perhaps best of all, there are camps dedicated to kids with special needs of all stripes, allowing all children equal opportunity to gorge on s’mores and get eaten alive by mosquitos.
Help Your Child Get the Most Out of Camp
Some kids take to camp like ducks to water, but the majority of them will get anxious or homesick at some point during the process. However, it’s important — for both of you — that she sticks it out at camp. Meeting people from different walks of life, participating in new activities, and learning how to get along with others are really valuable lessons that your child will do well to learn from an early age.
Abide by the camp’s communication rules, and stay positive in your calls, letters, or emails to your child. Don’t tell them how much they are missed at home, particularly if they’re struggling to settle in. If your child is having a truly miserable time because of bullying, being left out, or other unhealthy social situations, discuss the situation with camp counselors and administrators before yanking her out. After all, it’s their job to help kids participate, have a good time, and resolve conflict.
If possible, visit the camp with your child beforehand. That will help get him excited about the experience, and knowing at least a little bit about what to expect will mitigate any anxiety.
Depending on how long your children will be at camp, you may have the chance to visit and/or send a care package. Again, follow all camp rules to ensure that your child isn’t singled out unfairly — or given extra privileges that might upset the social dynamics of the camp.
Lastly, send along a few comforts from home. Your child probably won’t be allowed to have a smartphone, so print out photos of family, pets, and friends to ease their homesickness and enable them to stay grounded. A stuffed animal or favorite pair of pajamas might be a good idea, as well.
Making Memories That Will Last a Lifetime
Attending a sleepaway camp can be a nerve-wracking experience, at least at first. But it can also be one of the most rewarding and worthwhile opportunities you will ever give your child. Do your research, choose a camp your child is sure to love and get ready to watch them blossom this summer!