My older daughter had a blast working with horses at one of her first summer camp outings a couple of years ago…since then she’s had a few sleep-away camp experiences!
This past weekend I counted down the days ’til summer for my girls and was surprised (and as a working mom, perhaps a wee bit panicked) to realize there are only 4 weeks until school’s out!
Both my girls are super excited about going to day camp this summer and I’m considering sleep-away camp for my older daughter. She’ll be 11 in June and has done weekend sleep-away camps but not a full week. As a mom I’ve got a lot of questions running through my mind (and I bet you do, too) when it comes to preparing her for a week away from home.
How do you know when your child is ready? What about homesickness? Today I’ve got a great guest Q&A from the counseling staff at Camp Lonehollow that addresses some of the top-of-mind issues parents have about preparing their child (and let’s face it, themselves) for sleep-away camp.
What age should children start attending sleep-away camp?
While the “right” age will vary from child to child, most sleep away camps start accepting campers around age 7 or 8. That being said, age is not the only factor to consider when determining whether your child is ready for camp! Have they been asking about camp? How do they handle spending the night at a friend’s house or going away for the weekend? Only you and your child can decide what is right for your family.
How can parents help prevent homesickness before camp and ease homesickness while they are away?
First of all, don’t be surprised or upset if your child is a bit homesick their first time at camp. Experiencing homesickness is a normal part of growing up, but knowledge and preparation can help minimize its’ effects on children and create a positive camp experience. First of all, don’t deny its existence. If your camper is worried about missing home, take that opportunity to talk about homesickness and how they should handle it. It is important to enable them to overcome their homesickness rather than assuring them that you will come pick them up the instant they become upset. At that point, as a counselor, it becomes extremely difficult to encourage them to enjoy their stay when they know that they have an easy “out.” It also helps to involve your child in the camp selection process so that they feel a little bit of ownership in the experience.
Click here for more tips on preventing homesickness.
I want to send my camper a care package while they are away. What are some good ideas for things to send?
There are few things that get campers as excited as receiving care packages from home! Make sure to check any guidelines provided by your camp, as many limit some items such as candy, gum, and items that may be distracting to camp programs. Other than that, it’s always great to send something that the whole cabin can enjoy or something for your camper to get their friends to sign and keep as a souvenir. We’ve actually dedicated a Pinterest board to the subject to help parents build the perfect care package!
My child is a pretty picky eater. How can I be sure that they will eat well while at camp?
We’ve all seen the child who is going through a “noodles and butter only” stage. Camp chefs prepare for this by routinely offering a few options for meals or having campers build their own dish. That way they can get more of what they like and leave off that which they don’t. Also, counselors sit with their cabins during meal times to keep an eye on how everyone is eating and encourage the campers to make healthy choices.
What are the three most important things to remember when choosing and preparing my child for summer camp?
- Stay positive! Help get your camper excited for camp by involving them in the process, helping them pick out their activities, and encouraging them throughout their experience.
- Be realistic. Like the rest of life, camp will probably have its ups and downs for your camper. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest advantages of the summer camp experience. Prepare your camper for this and empower them to grow from it.
- Talk to other parents! When choosing the camp for your family, it is important to talk to other parents who have sent their children to the particular camp you are considering. Ask them questions about the programming, facilities, and staff so that you can have a clearer idea of whether or not it is the right fit for your child.
Camp Lonehollow is the premier Texas adventure camp for boys and girls. Memories of an incredible summer are just the beginning of the Lonehollow legacy. Known as one of the best summer camps in Texas, what separates Lonehollow is not only the breathtaking landscape, activity choices from mountain-boarding to radio DJ classes, gourmet food, or luxury stone cabins. It is our unique summer camp approach and intense dedication to providing enriching, life changing experience through our “geared to live” program.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in conjunction with Camp Lonehollow. All opinions and views, however, as always, are all my own.