Excited About Summer Camp

Parents want their children to experience an important rite of childhood – camp. Parents know that through experiences with nature, authentic relationships and participation in shared activities, children develop independence, a sense of self-worth and a greater understanding of the world around them. Simply put, camp changes lives. However, parents of first-time campers may be unsure of how to mentally prepare for this exciting adventure. The American Camp Association suggests keeping the following in mind as parents begin to prepare their children, and themselves, for camp:

Focus on Education
Camp provides an opportunity for children to explore a much larger world. It also offers parents and children a chance to practice normal, healthy separation, which allows children to develop autonomy and a stronger sense of self, make new friends, develop new social skills, learn about teamwork, and so much more.

Share the prep work
Camp decisions, like what to pack, should be made together. When children feel that they are part of the decision-making process, they are more comfortable.

Talk, talk, talk
It is only natural that as the first day of camp approaches that some children may experience uneasiness about going away. Encourage your child to talk about these feelings. Parents should let their child know that they are confident in the child’s ability to handle being away from home. Remind the child of other times they have been away from home successfully, such as sleepovers with friends or family.

Get real
It is important for children and parents to maintain realistic expectations. Camp is a microcosm of the real world, and there will be highs and lows. Parents should encourage realistic views of what camp will be like, discussing both the high points and the low points children may experience. Remind children that the most important thing is to relax and have fun at camp.

Camp is critical to the education of the whole child and leaves a lasting impression. One of the greatest gifts families can give a child is a sense of success and achievement. Camp teaches kids how to be active participants, ask questions, ask for help and try new things. They leave understanding that it’s ok to feel a little uncomfortable sometimes, because that’s generally what happens when you’re getting ready to learn something. By working together, families can ease the first-time camper’s fears and prepare everyone for the adventure ahead.

The American Camp Association works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org.