It’s common for children to feel anxious or nervous about sleeping away at camp, especially if it’s their first time. Sometimes these feelings or expressions of anxiety don’t crop up until the start of camp draws closer. Here are some things you can do to help alleviate anxiety and prepare your child for the experience:
Talk about it: Discuss the experience with your child beforehand, including what to expect, what they’re looking forward to, and any concerns or fears they may have. Encourage your child to ask questions and express their feelings openly.
Practice separation: Practice separation by arranging sleepovers with family or friends beforehand. This can help your child get used to being away from home and build confidence in their ability to cope with new situations.
Involve your child in the packing process: Involve your child in the packing process, and make sure they have all necessary items and comforts from home, such as a favorite stuffed animal or pillow.
Communication: Let your camper know they can write you letters and that you will be writing to them too. Make sure they know they can always talk with camp staff or the camp director if they ever need anything or are having a hard time. Make sure they knowing that they will have a phone call with you after the first week of camp. Knowing this communication with home is on the horizon will help ease anxiety and get the camper to focus on the camp experience in the first few days of camp instead of focusing on calling home right away or talking to a parent at the first sign of homesickness.
Create a coping strategy: Work with your child to create a coping strategy for managing anxiety, such as deep breathing exercises or visualizing a peaceful place. Encourage your child to use this strategy if they feel overwhelmed or anxious.
Trust the staff: Most importantly, the camp staff is trained to handle a variety of situations and ensure the safety and well-being of campers including normal feelings of anxiety when being away from home for the first time. Trust that they will take care of your child and address any concerns or issues that arise and make sure your child knows they can always approach camp staff to help them too.
Stay positive and encouraging: Remind your child that sleepaway camp will be a fun and exciting experience and that they are capable of handling new situations and challenges. Stay positive and encouraging, and express confidence in their ability to thrive at camp.
Overall, it’s important to be supportive and understanding of your child’s feelings about sleeping away at camp. By preparing them for the experience, and fostering a positive attitude, you can help alleviate anxiety and ensure a positive and rewarding experience for your child.
The best age to go to overnight camp depends on the individual child and their maturity level, interests, and comfort level with being away from home. However, many overnight camps typically accept children between the ages of 7 and 15. Here are some things to consider when determining the best age for your child to attend overnight camp:
Readiness for being away from home: Children who have previously attended sleepovers or been away from home for short periods of time may be more comfortable with the idea of overnight camp than those who have not. It’s important to consider your child’s comfort level with being away from home for an extended period of time and their ability to cope with homesickness.
Ability to follow rules and routines: Overnight camps have rules and routines that campers are expected to follow, such as set meal times and bedtimes, and regulations around personal conduct and behavior. Children who are able to follow rules and routines and understand the importance of respecting others may be better suited for overnight camp.
Interest in the camp’s activities: Overnight camps offer a wide variety of activities, from sports and outdoor adventure to arts and crafts and performing arts. It’s important to consider your child’s interests and whether the camp’s activities align with those interests. Children who are enthusiastic about the camp’s activities may be more likely to enjoy their time at camp and build strong relationships with their peers.
Maturity level: Some children may be more mature than others at a certain age, and it’s important to consider your child’s emotional maturity and ability to handle social situations, conflicts, and responsibility. A child who is mature for their age may be better suited for overnight camp than a child who is still developing these skills.
Overall, the best age to go to overnight camp varies from child to child, and it’s important to consider each child’s individual needs and interests when making the decision. It can be helpful to involve your child in the decision-making process and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about attending overnight camp.
Sending your child to sleepaway summer camp for the first time can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially for first-time parents. Here are some things you should know to help ease your worries and ensure a positive experience for both you and your child:
Do your research: Before choosing a sleepaway camp, do your research and make sure it aligns with your child’s interests and needs. Look into the camp’s policies and procedures, safety measures, staff qualifications, and communication protocols.
Involve your child in the decision-making process: Involve your child in the decision to attend sleepaway camp without letting them be the decision maker. Discuss the camp’s activities, expectations, and rules together. This can help your child feel more comfortable and excited about the experience while the parents are ultimately making the decision based on the things they find most important.
Prepare your child for the experience: Talk to your child about what to expect at sleepaway camp, including the daily routine, accommodations, and activities. You can also practice separation by arranging sleepovers with family or friends beforehand.
Establish communication: Discuss the communication plan with your child beforehand, including how often you will communicate and through what channels. It’s important to balance staying connected with allowing your child to fully immerse in the camp experience.
Manage homesickness: It’s common for children to experience homesickness, especially during the first few days at camp. Remind your child that it’s normal to feel this way and encourage them to talk to their counselor or a trusted staff member if they need support.
Trust the staff: The camp staff is trained to handle a variety of situations and ensure the safety and well-being of campers. Trust that they will take care of your child and address any concerns or issues that arise.
Overall, sending your child to sleepaway summer camp can be a wonderful experience that can help them build independence, make new friends, and try new activities. By preparing yourself and your child for the experience and establishing open communication with the camp staff, you can help ensure a positive and rewarding experience for all involved.
It’s important to remember that the transition into a sleepaway camp environment can be difficult for both campers and parents. It’s our job to help ease that transition by providing a comforting and supportive environment for all involved. Below are some time tested strategies to make sure our campers and parents make a smooth transition here at Birchmont.
Partnership between camp and home: Providing consistent and united messaging between home and camp are essential for building a camper’s trust and setting them up to succeed and enjoy their new home away from home. Our message should always be that camp is going to be a fun, safe, and positive place for campers to spend their summer. It may be normal to miss home at first, but that will pass. It’s also OK to miss home and still have a great experience at camp! Avoid being guilted into “making deals” to pick a camper up if they don’t like it at first; this will often prevent a child from giving the experience a chance. The best answer to these kinds of questions or requests in the lead up to camp is: “I spent a lot of time making sure Birchmont was the perfect camp for you. I know you will have an amazing time. We are committed to X weeks and then you will be home before you know it!”
Set expectations: We are always clear with campers and parents about what to expect at camp. Going over the camp handbook together and explaining the daily routine, rules, and expectations for behavior help let everyone know what to expect. This can help reduce anxiety and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Create a welcoming environment: We ensure that our campers feel welcomed from the moment they arrive at camp. We always greet them with a smile and show genuine interest in getting to know them. Our cabins are clean and organized and equipped with everything they need to feel comfortable.
Encourage participation: Once campers begin to participate in activities and make new friends, homesickness fades very quickly. From the moment our campers arrive, we intentionally structure opportunities for campers to bond with their cabin mates and participate in group activities. This can help build a sense of community and make campers feel more comfortable and at home quickly.
Communication with parents: Our team is available during camp to let our parents know how their child is doing. We also provide daily pictures to give everyone at home a glimpse into daily camp life. A weekly phone call is provided to help ease any worries parents may have and keep them informed about what their child is experiencing at camp.
Provide support: We are always available to campers and parents if they have questions or concerns. We will listen actively and provide honest and transparent feedback when needed. If a camper is feeling homesick, we always offer extra support and encourage them to talk about their feelings with us so we can help them navigate these perfectly normal feelings.
Be flexible: We understand that not all campers will adapt to the sleepaway camp environment at the same pace. We understand this and provide additional support as needed. We will also facilitate connections where experienced campers can help newer campers adjust to camp life.
With these strategies in mind, camp and home can work together to create a very positive camp experience for everyone involved!