© Dave Willman | Dreamstime.com
Take a Shower
As you might expect, once kids are out from under Mom’s watch, skipping a shower is the norm. After all, who will notice, right? Wrong. Showering is part of a camp’s daily routine, so kids need to know how to be quick and efficient. Limiting showers to five minutes will ensure everyone has enough hot water. Proper hygiene is also important, talk about the importance of brushing teeth, washing hair (send along detangler for girls with long hair), and changing underwear regularly.
New clothes are not a great fit for camp. Cabins with five or more bunkmates means clothing gets mixed up and dirty and sometimes lost forever. Make sure aricle of clothing has your child’s name on it. Talk about the importance of respecting the kids they’ll share their cabin with. Keep clothes picked up and stored in a central place (trunk or drawer), so items don’t get lost. Hang up wet clothes so they can dry out. NO bathing suits or T-shirts stuffed into the corner of a trunk where it will mildew. Hang up towels instead of leaving them in a heap on the floor.
At camp, kids are given the freedom to select whatever they want to eat at mealtime. Naturally, some load up on bread, mac and cheese, and Jello exclusively. But picking foods that provide a balanced meal, including fruits, veggies, and protein, will give your child more energy. Choose poorly and they may suffer the consequences of fatigue, irregularity, sugar highs, or headaches. Work on making good food choices at home and encourage kids to try new things. Since dehydration is also pretty common at camp, talk about the importance of drinking plenty of water all day long. Get in the habit at home, by serving water instead of juice or soft drinks at mealtime.
Turn Off Electronics
Many camps recognize the importance of being unplugged. That means iPods, tablets, and other devices are not allowed or their use is restricted. With so many new activities to try, kids typically don’t miss being connected. Begin taking a break at home, by shutting down electronics after supper or several hours before bedtime, so kids can spend their time exploring other activities.
Swim Across a Pool
Many camps have swimming facilities, a lake or pool, where part of each day is spent. If your child hasn’t mastered swimming yet, don’t worry. Lessons are often part of the program and with daily drilling, your child will likely improve. A swim test is given to determine each child’s skill level. “We ask campers to swim the length of our competitive lap pool and then tread water for 30 seconds,” says former camp administrator Allie Denton. To build confidence, practice these skills before camp begins.
Talk to a Counselor
Kids are used to turning to their parents when they’re hurting or in need of support. So who provides that role at camp? Their counselors and camp nurse. Tell your child these are the people they can go to if they’ve accidentally wet their bed, feel homesick, wake with a stomachache, become constipated, or being teased or picked on. Counselors are trained to help campers, regardless of the issue. Kids should never be afraid to ask for assistance when they feel uncomfortable. Talk to your child about how and when to share their personal information. “I’ve had campers in the past hide grievances such as these, only to have it come out once they’ve gotten home and talked to their parents,” says Denton. “Not only are these issues ones that can be easily solved at camp, but campers miss out on an important life skill: being an advocate of their needs and learning to trust others.”
What Should Camp Leaders Know About My Child?
- Any specific medical or personal needs your child has
- Food &/or medicine allergies
- A history of bed wetting or irritable bowel issues
- Fainting spells
- A recent death or divorce in the family
Some of these may be on your camper’s health form, but don’t be shy about calling and speaking directly to camp staff regarding issues concerning your child.