How to prepare your kid for their first summer camp
I won’t ever forget the first time I dropped my kids off at summer camp. Jordan and Jacob walked excitedly down the road, dragging their packed lunch boxes like they were brief cases filled with important documents. Jordan was so small, especially compared to his two-year older and more experienced brother.
Off to LEGO camp they went. I know, LEGO – it’s not like I was sending them to laundry-folding camp! They were SURE to have an awesome time! But signing the consent form at the door, piling their lunch boxes up against the wall and then leaving them in a room full of strangers was H A R D. However both Jordan and Jacob were already well-prepared for their first camp, so the send-off was clearly harder on me, and a non-event for them.
Summer camp can be an equally exciting and stressful time for your child (and you). Especially if this is their first time going to summer camp.
For some kids, summer camp will be something they wait for all year, but not everyone may be counting down the days until it’s time to leave. This is especially true if your child is an introvert and shy.
There are a few things you can do to help prepare your child for their first summer camp to make the experience more fun and stress-free. Here is how to prepare your child for their first summer camp.
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Reassure them that it’s gonna be okay
Sometimes our kids lose a little bit of confidence at the thought of being apart from us. Reassure them that everything will be okay, and even visit the camp before they go, if you can. If your child is going to a sleep-away camp, make sure to remind them that they will return home and that someone will be there to help take care of them. If you’re not sure if your child is ready for a sleep-away camp, check out this post on sleep-away camp readiness.
Teach them how to use sunscreen
When kids go away to summer camp, there are a lot of other kids! This means that the counselors and helpers will have their hands full. It’s important to not only teach the proper way to put on sunscreen but also how often to apply it! Here are some tips for how to get your child to put on sunscreen.
Make sure they are self-sufficient in the bathroom
For the younger kids, making sure they are completely self-sufficient in the bathroom will alleviate a lot of anxieties. This is a great way to teach your kid how to wipe after using the bathroom. It is life skill we don’t always realize can cause constipation and infections if they don’t know how to do it properly. Spending a little extra time in the bathroom with your little one will help them enjoy time away from home without you.
Talk to them about your own summer camp experiences
It may help ease their anxiety if you tell them about your own summer camp experiences! Our kids always LOVE hearing stories from our childhood. It helps bridge the age-gap and makes our advice more relatable when we share stories about going through things they are currently facing.
If a sibling or yourself have ever been to summer camp, break out the photo albums and tell them your best stories! Knowing that you had a good experience will give them more confidence before they go.
If you’ve never been to summer camp, ask a friend or another child with camp experience to talk to them.
If possible, send them with a friend
This won’t always be an option, but if you know of a friend who is going to a particular camp, it will make it easier for them to go together. Day camps sometimes allow you to bring friends so take advantage when you can!
If your child is going to a sleep-away camp, speak to their friend’s parents to coordinate for the kids to go together.
Prepare them for the experience
It’s hard to know exactly how to prepare your child for summer camp. Help prepare them for the experiences they may have or the type of people they might meet while they’re at camp.
Teach your kids about bullies and what to do if they experience or witness bullying while they are away. Anything you can do to teach them before they go will be helpful!
Walk your kid through “a day at camp”, explaining in detail the daily schedule, as much as possible. This particular parenting hack helped our family tremendously to overcome separation anxiety when one of our sons started preschool. Because of this easy-to-use parenting tool, summer camps have always been a breeze for this kid.
Summer camp can be a fun way for your kids to spend the summer! Use these tips to help make their first time at summer camp a blast!
Check out the summer bucket list we used for the past two years – so many fun ideas and inspiration for you to make your own!