A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Your Child for Sleepaway Camp

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Sleepaway camps play an important role in your child’s growth and development. While it’s natural to feel a little homesick, your child can come home with new friends and a greater sense of maturity.

Prepare your sons and daughters for a positive camping experience that they’ll remember for the rest of their life…

Benefits of Sleepaway Camps

1. Cooperate with others.

Sharing a tent or bunkhouse is an effective way for kids to practice teamwork. Paddling canoes and making up ghost stories will help them to understand their own identity and how to interact with others. Most children are ready to benefit from an overnight camp at about the age of 8 or 9.

2. Connect with nature.

Do you wish your kids spent more time outdoors? Many camps ban electronic devices so your kids will be able to replace their screen time with more vigorous activities. They may even continue those new habits when they return home.

3. Pursue interests.

Today’s camps offer a lot more than popsicle stick crafts. Children can study foreign languages, conduct science experiments, or work on their tennis game.

4. Develop leadership.

Along with all the fun, kids can pick up skills they’ll need for successful and rewarding careers. Some camps train kids to become counselors or serve in other leadership positions.

Preparing Your Child Socially and Emotionally

1. Share the decision making.

You’re more likely to find a good fit when you involve your kids in the selection process. Split up the workload for researching camps with gymnastic programs or chemistry labs. Sit down together to review websites and brochures.

2. Arrange a trial run.

Let your kids practice staying away from home overnight. Grandparents would probably enjoy a weekend visit.

3. Role play.

Help your child to feel more comfortable by acting out situations that they’re likely to run into at camp. Practice finding your way around the back yard at night with a flashlight. Rehearse sharing a care package.

4. Agree on communications.

Discuss the policies at each camp. They may limit the timing and number of phone calls or packages. It’s easier for your child to adapt if they know what to expect.

5. Transition back.

Remember to plan for the time after camp. Your child may want to follow up with their bunkmates or continue exploring their new interests.

Managing the Logistics

1. Check on accreditation.

The American Camp Association bases accreditation on strict standards for health, safety, and program quality. It’s one good way to ensure that you’re leaving your child in capable hands.

2. Visit in advance.

If possible, take a trip to see the camp before dropping your child off. Talking with the staff in person may reveal more information than you can obtain from just a website or phone call.

3. Plan for the costs.

With such a wide variety of camps available, you can look for something in your budget range. Overnight camps typically charge $500 or more a week.

4. Pack appropriately.

Your camp will probably send you a list of what to pack. Leave yourself enough time to label each item if you want to prevent them from getting lost. While you’re at it, break in any new footwear.

5. See your doctor.

Let your family doctor know that your child is heading for camp. Kids may need to complete a physical or make arrangements for taking prescription medications.

Sleepaway camps are a fun way to encourage your child to become more independent and adept at managing change. They can find new buddies and build their confidence while they swim or study geology.