Judson Blog

How to Know if Your Child is Ready for Summer Camp

A child’s reaction to spending a week at summer camp can look quite different. One child may jump for joy, another may cry at the mention of leaving home, and yet another may be silent or seemingly unfazed.

Let’s access what each child’s reaction could mean.

Reaction 1: “Yay! Summer Camp!”

Alright! Your child is raring to start a new adventure. Most likely your child has heard positive remarks about camps from friends, family, or a favorite TV show. Although the concept of camp is not entirely unfamiliar to him or her, it is possible that camp will be different than expected. Some of the tips in the, “Preparing for Camp” section below can help your child prepare.

Reaction 2: “I don’t want to go to camp!”

There are many reasons your child may not want to go to camp. He or she may be afraid of being away from home, afraid of getting lost, afraid of not making friends, and so on. The best approach is to talk with your child and find out what his or her fear is.
Here are some suggestions from an article on Child Mind Institute’s website, “13 Tips for Helping Anxious Kids Enjoy Summer Camp”. 1

  • “Avoid focusing on what makes children anxious. Instead of asking leading questions like, ‘Are you nervous about horseback riding?’ ask open-ended questions like, ‘How are you feeling about the horses?’
  • “Don’t trivialize her (or his) concerns or offer glib reassurances. ‘There’s nothing to worry about!’ or ‘Everyone loves camp!’ may discourage your child. Instead, show that you have empathy and acknowledge her (or his) concerns.”

If you decide your child is ready for camp, you will find more help full suggestions in the “Preparing for Camp” section below.

Reaction 3: Seemingly No Reaction

Are you receiving no feedback from your child about camp? Try listing some of the activities usually done at camp and see if this draws a response-either positive or negative. Still no response? Parents.com has some helpful considerations: 2

  • Does your child do well with sleepovers at a friend’s or grandparent’s house? If so, he or she will likely feel comfortable bunking with other kids.
  • Is your child able to bathe on his or her own and read a daily schedule? These are abilities useful for camp.

Final Decision

The final decision comes down to you! Based on your child’s reaction and your own knowledge of your child, you will be able to determine if camp is a right fit this year.

Preparing for Camp

Whether your child is excited for camp, afraid of it, or somewhere in between, here are some suggestions to help their time at camp go smoothly.

  • Explain to your child what will happen at camp. If you have been to camp before share your experience with him or her. Child Mind Institute says:
    “Reflect on your own formative experiences away from home and share positive aspects of them with your child. Show that you are willing to talk about the new things he’ll be doing, whether it’s eating new food, sleeping in a bunkbed, getting along with cabin-mates, or coexisting with insects.”1
  • If the camp you plan to send your child to to has a website, show him or her some pictures or videos of camp activities.
  • Talk to your child’s camp counselor about any concerns you have or any needs your child has.

If you feel that your child is not ready for camp that is perfectly fine! Children’s preferences are always changing. They may be ready next year!

-By Megan Hunsberger

 

Resources:

1 “13 Tips for Helping Anxious Kids Enjoy Summer Camp.” Child Mind Institute. Web. 2017. https://childmind.org/article/13-tips-for-helping-anxious-kids-enjoy-summer-camp/

2 Black, Rosemary. “Happy Camper: Is Your Kid Ready for Sleepaway Camp?” Parents. Web. 2017
http://www.parents.com/kids/camp/summer/ready-for-sleepaway-camp/