So you have made the decision to send your child to summer camp. It was a great decision. Your children will learn about the outdoors and themselves while meeting interesting people and making new friends. Well done.
It’s early now and you have time to worry about the “big questions.” Remember why you felt a summer camp experience was important for your child. As he matures, it’s important for him to take his first steps into the-big-bad-world. There is no safer, better supervised environment for him to test the wings of his new-found independence than in summer camp.
What your 4th grade English teacher said was true, “there are no stupid questions.” If you, the parent, never went to summer camp, we expect you to have a lot of questions. Even if you went to summer camp last century, believe us when we say a lot has changed. Parents should call, email, or visit their summer camp until they have every questioned answered. Don’t worry about us, we love to talk about camp.
Stay in Touch
Join your camp’s Facebook page. Follow your camp on Twitter. Visit the camp website every week. Visit camp for a tour, an open house event, or attend a family camp program. The more interaction you have with camp staff, the more comfortable you will be when your child goes away for a week or two this summer.
You’ve seen the brochure. You watched the videos. You’ve visited the website. You’ve talked to camp staff. Visit the camp! It will be worth the trip, and it will give you and your new camper another chance to ask questions and get comfortable.
Be Brave for Your Child
After 20 years on summer camp staff there is a dirty little secret about homesickness I think you ought to know: Your fond farewells on the first day of camp can often cause – or alleviate – homesickness. If your camper sees you are nervous and sad at the start of camp, she will feel that way, too. She will often feel sad for you. Be strong for your new camper. Let her know how excited you are for her to have this new experience. Let her know you will be alright while she is gone. It could make all the difference.
Take Time for Yourself
Parents deserve a break. Summer camp can give you that break. You are unlikely to ever have a better trained person looking after the needs of your child than during a week of summer camp (other than you, of course). Most camp staff are CPR and 1st Aid certified, they have been trained in dozens of fun games and activities, they sleep in the same room with the kids they care for, and watch what they eat at meals. Take a break while your child is away and in good hands. Watch a movie. Visit a spa. Recharge your batteries.
Celebrate the Accomplishment
Celebrate the accomplishment of completing the first week away at summer camp (for you and your child). After camp, go to a favorite restaurant and share with your child how proud you are of him. Chances are, he will have a lot to talk about.
Know that your child is going to learn new things, build self-esteem, make new friends, and be cared for by excellent camp counselors who are there for you child.
We’ll See you at Camp!
Be sure to visit Nathan’s camp, The South Mountain YMCA Camps, at www.smymca.org.
*This article was started by Jeff Henry, the summer camp intern at YMCA Camp Conrad Weiser, and finished by Nathan.