What to Expect from Summer Camp

Is your child ready for camp?

If you have young children, you should consider whether they’re ready to go to camp, particularly if it’s a sleepaway camp. Some camps offer programs for children as young as five! Some kids have no problem being away from home because they’re distracted by all the fun they’re having. But others might not do as well, simply because they weren’t ready!

Some things to consider: has your child ever been to day camp, which will help them become familiar with camp structure? Have they ever spent the night away from home before? Can they organize their own clothes and make their own bed? Have they ever asked to go to a sleepaway camp? How does your child react when you suggest camp?

What are your child's interests?

Would your child like to go to a wilderness camp full of day hikes and out-trips on horseback? Or would they prefer a sport-specific camp? Or maybe your child would do best in a camp with lots of different activities, so that they can learn new skills and develop new interests. Either way, it’s important to take a look at what each potential camp offers in terms of activity programming.

Does your child have special needs?

If your child has special needs, whether physical, mental, or social, most camps are happy to welcome them. Some camps are set up specifically for special needs children, while other camps will work with you and your special needs kids on a case-by-case basis. If your child has special needs, it’s important to remember that they CAN go to camp, and they can have just as much fun as any other child!

Will your child be safe?

We can assure you that your child’s safety while at camp is always a top priority at our member camps. Staff are to be properly trained to lead and instruct activities, proper safety equipment is always to be used, and the facilities are to be maintained to avoid accidents. Camps are always inspected by safety and health inspectors to make sure everything is as it should be. If you are curious about safety standards at camp, just ask the potential camp what they do? One option is for them to be accredited with a governing organization which performs regular accreditation inspections at camps across the country.

That being said, there is always an inherent risk when your child participates in any activity. From horseback riding to just good old-fashioned tag, there’s a chance your child may be injured; however, camp staff do their best to make sure the kids are having fun in a safe environment, and try their best to minimize risk. Furthermore, camps are required to have a nurse or designated first aid person on property at all times.

Here are a few other questions we often receive.

Parents who are accustomed to interacting with their children constantly throughout the day via text messaging or email messaging might have to adjust their expectations. Each camp has a different policy with regards to parent visits and phone calls. Check with your potential camp to ask them for their policies. We do suggest that you keep your contact with your child for the week they are away to a minimum. This way, your kids will be able to focus more on having fun, developing friendships, and learning new things. Worried parents who constantly phone camp to speak to their child might create a homesickness in the child that might not have been there otherwise. If you do want the chance to phone or visit, check with the camp for how they go about arranging it.

Kids who go to camp alone tend to make more new friends and are able to branch out more. However, there is nothing wrong with your child and their close friend attending the same camp. If your child is nervous about going alone, it might be nice for them to have a friend. Don’t worry about your child being lonely – camp staff are trained to make sure everyone is included in every activity and in all conversations at mealtimes and downtimes.

If your child is going to camp for the first time and you think they might be nervous about it, there are a few ways you can mentally prepare them to have a good time. First, always talk about camp in a positive, but casual way. Don’t make too big a deal about it, but bring up the things about camp that you know your child will love to help them get excited to go. Also, make sure you don’t make promises you know you won’t want to keep: for example, don’t promise you’ll pick up your child and take them home if they don’t like it. Assume they’ll stay the whole week. If it turns out your child is having a really rough time and is completely miserable, by all means — come get them! But don’t set up that scenario before you even drop them off. If you think your child might have specific issues being at camp, be sure to mention them to their cabin leader, so that they can be sensitive to those issues.

One idea is to begin changing their bedtime routine. Homesickness can often start by missing out on the “always followed” bedtime routine. Missing the “one hug, two kisses, a song and a nose rub” can become the reason that sleeping at camp is too hard.

Before sending your child to camp, you should also make some organizational preparations. Make sure you label your child’s belongings. Don’t send anything too valuable with your child to camp. No expensive electronics (which most camps won’t allow anyway) or jewelry. You wouldn’t want to risk these items getting lost.

Before you drop your child off, make sure you’ve attended to their medical matters. If they’re on prescriptions, you’ll need to bring an adequate supply in the original container. Don’t forget their Epi-Pens or asthma inhalers. All of your child’s medications will be stored and dispensed by the camp’s nurse or first-aid personnel. If your child has gone off their medication for the summer (Ritalin, for example), it’s good to mention it to the camp nurse when you register your child.

This answer is easy: that they’ll have a great time! Camp is such a positive place where kids can get out of their shells, make friends, learn new skills, and become happier, more responsible versions of their already great selves! We can’t stress enough how wonderful summer camp can be for a child. We hope you and your child are ready to experience it!