Part of our Counselor’s Corner series. Click to read other posts in the Counselor’s Corner.
The school year has ended, which means children have lots of free times on their hands! Kids who attend summer camps and programs gain excellent opportunities to combat summer learning loss and build meaningful peer relationships. Below are some tips for making the most of summer camp opportunities.
Finding the Right Camp
Ideally it is best to start looking for summer camps before the school year is over. Many camps and programs fill up quickly. Think about what you want the program to accomplish for your child. Does he or she have a love of acting? Seek out theater or improv camps. Are you raising a budding scientist? Contact local colleges or universities to see what programs they offer in the sciences. There are many places to look for summer camp opportunities, including colleges, trade schools, recreation centers, and schools.
If you are having difficulty finding a place to start looking, consult your child’s school counselor. School counselors are usually in the know about different programs offered in your community and can point you in the right direction.
Planting the Seed
Some children are less than thrilled about attending summer camp. They are nervous about leaving home and being away from family and friends. To head this off, start talking about summer camp early. Involve your child in choosing a camp. Children will have more buy-in and be more excited about the opportunity if they are part of the process from the beginning. Giving them time to be okay with the idea of camp will help them physically and mentally prepare for it.
You can also talk to kids about what they will do if they start feeling homesick. Making plans early on will quell kids’ fears that they will be stuck away from home feeling sad and lonely. If a child is very apprehensive, try seeking out a day camp or a camp very close to home. You could also talk to parents of your child’s friends and choose a camp the other kids are attending.
Make a List and Check It Twice
To ensure that kids have the proper materials and items they need for camp, ask for a packing list. There may be specific items the camp does not provide but that campers are expected to bring. It may also be a good idea for you and your child to make a list of items he or she wants to pack in order to feel comfortable away from home. Maybe he or she has a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or pillow (even teenagers often do) that would ease the transition. Have kids make a separate list of items, such as books and games, that they could take to occupy unstructured camp time.
For more information for making the most of your child’s summer camp experience, check out these resources:
- The Camp Resource for Families from the American Camp Association, Inc.
- Tips for parents: Prepare your child for camp from SheKnows.com
- Find a Camp from the American Camp Association, Inc.
What tips do you have related to preparing your children for summer camp?
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