Summer camp provides an opportunity for youngsters to gain some independence from their parents while making new friends and trying different activities. It also gives parents their own summer break of sorts, especially if it is a sleepaway camp. Regardless of whether your kids are gone for a few hours or a few days, planning for an experience that is fun and safe will help them (and you) make the most of their adventures.
Make a Plan
Unless your kids are attending Vacation Bible School at the behest of your elderly neighbor (who probably offered to drive them there and back each day), then sending them to camp requires some advanced planning. The first step is finding a camp that meets your needs, your budget, and your child’s interests. Odds are, if a specific camp is on your radar, someone has mentioned an option to you already. Don’t be deterred if your child doesn’t seem interested or if they are locked in on one that just won’t work for your family. Work together to set some criteria, and find a few different camps they can choose from to help ensure the best fit. Once you know which camp they’ll attend, do your homework before packing their bags. Going to camp isn’t like going to a third-world country, but when it means being away from home, it is important to pack the right things. Talking to camp counselors and other parents who have sent their children previously can help you help them pack light and bring essential items to help keep them safe.
Focus on Learning
Whether your kids are off to a full-blown summer camp experience or just attending a one-day community event, it should always be an opportunity try new things. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the normal activities they participate in on a regular basis. For example, bird watching may be something you haven’t considered or even heard of previously. There are all kinds of advantages to becoming a birder, both for your child and the pair of you. To start, it’s an opportunity to learn about your immediate environment: exactly what kinds of birds live there, the kinds of habitats they live in, why your area’s climate is ideal for them, and how different birds have adapted to human presence. This type of learning experience will not only grow your child’s interest in science and nature but in caring for their surroundings more intently.
People can experience separation anxiety just like their beloved pets. Separation between parents and kids requires both to step outside their comfort zone and try things that at first blush might seem unsafe. If this is the first time your child will spend an extended period away from you, there is a good possibility you are both experiencing some anxiety. It is good to acknowledge those fears early, address them as best as possible before camp, and not give up on the fact that they will pass. For the kids, it is important to let them work through their fears. A few days, a little fun, and a new friend or two will eliminate most kids’ anxiety about being away from mom and dad. To address your own fears, plan activities to fill the time you would normally spend with your youngster. This might mean going to a movie, planning time with friends, or treating yourself to an adult version of camp. However you choose to fill the void, it is important not to let your fears spoil the experience for your child.
Forethought and planning, along with addressing fears as they come up, will allow the summer camp experience to leave a lasting positive impression on your child. Camp can lead to lifelong friendships or a new passion for a previously unknown activity. It’s about kids discovering themselves and parents sharing in their joy as they become more confident.
Article By: Anya Willis
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com