Sending your child to camp for the first time is a major milestone for most families — one that is often marked by excitement, anticipation and perhaps even some anxiety. One way to help prepare your child for camp is to talk with them about it before they go. Here are some sample topics for discussion that will help prepare your child emotionally for their big adventure.
“Camp is about making new friends. If you are shy about meeting new kids, then learn to get to know others by being a good listener. Remember also that not everyone in your cabin, bunk or group has to be your friend, and you don’t have to be everyone else’s friend. As long as you treat others with respect and they do the same with you, then having one or two friends at camp is fine. If you have more, then that’s great!”
Adjusting to New Routines
“Give yourself time. One thing about camp is that almost everything is new — the kids, the activities, the routines, the bed you sleep in, the bathroom. It takes a few days to get adjusted, so be patient with yourself. Most of the time, you will be having so much fun, you won’t mind all the changes, but if you do, remember that you will get so used to things that by the time you come home, you will miss all those things!”
“Camp is about fun, but it also requires that you help. Clean-up is part of camp. You do it every day! As your parent, I hope you will cooperate.”
“Everyone has good days and bad days. If you are having a problem, your counselor is there to help you. You don’t have to wait to tell us if you are upset about something. After all, if your counselor doesn’t know what might be troubling you, they can’t help you. Be honest and ask for what you need.”
Talking with your child about these kinds of issues is a great way to show support as your child gets ready to take this important step on the road to being more resilient and self-reliant. For you as a parent, it can give you more peace of mind as you allow your child to participate safely in a broader world.
Originally published in Camp Magazine. Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association. ©2019, American Camping Association, Inc.