Friendships bloom at summer camp
Going away to camp will test your child’s ability to make friends and adjust to different environments. Summer camp directors say talking to your child ahead of time and discussing the following will help ease the transition.
• Be kind to others. Many campers will be experiencing staying away from home for the first time. Some might be afraid of the dark or feel sad because they’re missing family. Encourage your child to be a friend, to reach out and get to know others. Kind words go much further than teasing or bullying.
• Be open to trying new things. Camp is all about being introduced to things your child might not have tried before. Although it might be tough at first, building self-confidence is the natural benefit of trying something new. Remind your child of something he recently thought he couldn’t do, then discovered he could.
• Be a friend, not a bully. Teasing or putting down others is often the way some children deal with feeling inadequate or unpopular. Talk about the importance of being a friend by helping others out or lending a hand when chores, like cleaning up the cabin, need to get done. When kids learn how to work together cooperatively, everyone has a better time.
• Be a problem solver. It’s often easy to throw up one’s hands in frustration when faced with a problem. If your kid tends to be a quitter, emphasize the importance of working through a problem rather than giving up in defeat. If your child is tackling something new, help him think through different ways of sorting out the problem. And remember, there is always more than one solution.
• Be positive. Talk to your child about homesickness. While it’s natural to miss family and friends back home, let him know that camp counselors are people he can turn to should he feel sad. Counselors are trained to help kids weather such storms. Remember to remain positive and focus on the fun activities at-hand; the time will pass more quickly when he’s engaged with others rather than focused on self.
Five Ways to Help Your First-Time Camper
• Follow camp guidelines per what to pack for camp. Leave electronics (cell phones, tablets, game systems) at home or have a cell phone on-hand for emergency use only.
• Put one camp outfit per day in a zip-lock bag and label with each day of the week.
• Put toiletries in a zippered dock bag. Remind your child to always return shampoo or hairbrush to the bag so it doesn’t get misplaced in the cabin.
• Label all meds and be sure they are given to the camp nurse for safekeeping. Include instructions for each medication indicating how often or under what circumstances your child should receive it.
• Allow your child to take a lovey or favorite pillow that might bring her comfort. Some parents put together a small photo album of family and pet pictures for their child to look at.