Sleepaway camp experiences are some of my most pleasant summer memories. Gathered around the campfire with a gaggle of kids, sleeping overnight on a cot in an oversized tent, or a bunk in a cabin, whispering late into the evening with a new instant-best-friend. As a parent, I wanted our own children to have experiences like these, gaining friends from summer camp, year after year, and have the benefit of the growth, confidence and independence that’s fostered from those weeks spent at sleepaway camp, as a child.
How to Prepare your Kid for Sleepaway Camp
Start Short (and Young)
Many local sleepaway camps in Alberta have weekend or two day options for children as young as six. This quick and dirty introduction to sleepaway camp is filled with the programming and the structure to introduce them to camp, without the week long integration. This way, they can get a small dose of the camp, they’ll see you in the blink of an eye, and it’s only two sleeps.
Familiarize Them with the Camp
Show your kid photos of the camp, talk about the routine, the programming, and how they’re going to spend their days. When they know what to expect from the camp, they’re going to be more comfortable with the idea of spending a few days at sleepaway camp. Many of the local Alberta sleepaway camps have introductory and parent days, where you can come check out the facility and learn about the programming, as a family.
Tip // check the camp’s social media pages and feeds, it’s a great way to see videos of the camp experience and activities before you (and find images and videos of your own kid enjoying camp!)
Let them Help Pack
Not only does letting them help pack make it easier, as they can fetch things and cross them off of the camp packing list, but they can also get familiar with the things they’re bringing along. If they’re familiar with what they’re bringing to camp, it’s more likely it’s going to come home with them at the end of camp. Don’t forget to label everything just in case. Also, they’re going to know where to find it in their suitcase when they’re searching for it, and you’re not around to find it for them.
Give Them the Tools
Sleepaway camp can be intimidating, but it’s easier if your kids are confident and have a sense of their own independence. This is why something as simple as letting them out of the car and walking home the last couple of blogs from the grocery store (say yes when they ask!) is so important. Giving them the tools they are going to need to excel at camp, is going to help them to get more from the experience.
Skip the Pressure
Don’t over pressure your kids about how much fun they’re going to have at camp. Let it come up in the conversation naturally, or let them bring it up. There are bound to be activities that they’re not going to enjoy, and there may even be a camp or two that they don’t want to return to. Don’t pressure them to have the time of their life before they go, and let it come naturally.
How do you prepare your kids for sleepaway camp?