As parents you have the final say on where your child goes to summer camp. In the end you know best, and you should never send your child to a camp that you don’t feel 100% comfortable with.
Having said that, it’s vital to talk to your child and let them be a part of the process. They’re the ones that are doing the camping after all, and without their input you may be setting them up for a less-than-optimal experience. Here are some tips on what to discuss with your child when picking a summer camp that’s perfect for them.
What kind of stay are they comfortable with?
Summer camps fall into two categories in terms of stay – day camps and sleepover or overnight camps. With day camps, your child will participate in activities every day but you’ll pick them up before nightfall. With sleepover camps, your child will be at the camp site 24/7 for however long they stay.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and some children do better at day camps and some do better at overnight camps. Sleepover camps allow for kids to experience an immersive experience and helps them to foster their sense of independence. Day camps allow kids not quite ready for overnight camping the opportunity to experience a good amount of what summer camp can be. You should always encourage your child to take risks and confront trepidation, but you should never force them. Make sure your child says they are ready for a sleepover experience before shipping them off.
Also remember to discuss length of stay. If it’s your child’s first overnight camping experience, you may want to opt for a few days or a week – even if the full camping package last for two weeks or more.
What are they interested in?
Apart from type of camp stay, the most important question concerning summer camp is whether your child wants to go to a specialty camp or a general camp. The former focuses on one or two specific activities – think dance, music, horseback riding, sports, archery, etc. The latter tends to have kids participate in a wide range of activities.
If your child is obsessed with dance, for instance, they may do better at a camp that focuses on what they love. Anything else may be a distraction.
If your child doesn’t yet have a specified interest, sending them to a specialty camp in the hopes of developing an interest may backfire. General camps allow kids to experience many things, and can help them figure out what they love for themselves.
Don’t shy away from the “homesick problem”
You might think that as soon as you mention the word homesick, you’re setting your child up for failure. But according to Christopher Thurber, PhD, co-author of Summer Camp Handbook, and a spokesperson for the American Psychological Association, that’s simply not true.
“There’s a conventional idea that if you mention homesickness, you’ll just make them focus on it. But it doesn’t work that way. Have an open discussion with your kids about how they feel about going away. What’s most important here is that the parent gives the message that he or she believes the child can handle the stress of being away, that the child is competent at handling temporary, uncomfortable feelings,” he tells WebMD.
The more your child feels like they have a say in the decision making, the less likely they are to be overcome with feelings of homesickness when away.
Camp can be a great way for your kid to make new friends and learn new things while they’re off from school. However, if they have been struggling in a particular area of study, looking into summer tutoring services as an alternative is not a bad idea either.
Thank you to our guest post from Alex of Safeytoday.org !!