By Daniele Clarke
Camps can be a time of fun and friendship-building. Getting away from the classroom for a few days and trying your hand at new activities can be enjoyable. But not for everyone. For many children (and parents), the fun of camp is overshadowed by concerns.
Some common concerns about camp include:
- Sleeping away from home in an unfamiliar place
- Responsibility for self-care, in the absence of parents
- Who they will share a room with at camp
- If they will like the food at camp
- Feeling homesick or lonely
These are all very natural concerns for a child, whether it is their first or tenth time at camp.
Camps can be an excellent experience for children. Besides all the fun activities at camp, there are many opportunities for growth and development of skills, such as:
- Social and teamwork skills, as children connect across the entire year level
- Skills of independence, as children take more responsibility for their self-care
- Practical life skills, as they engage in a range of activities
- Building resilience and self-confidence as they overcome challenges
10 Practical steps you can take to prepare your child for camp
Manage your own anxiety. Take a moment to notice how you feel about camp. Write down all your concerns. Some of your worries may also be your child’s, such as, “What if he can’t sleep alone?”, “What if someone is mean to him?”, “What if he hurts himself?”
Now that you know your concerns, you can prepare your child and problem solve.
Talk about what might worry your child. Talk about camp and all the things that might worry them even if they don’t seem worried. Sometimes a confident child is not concerned because they have no idea how camp works.
Parents often avoid talking about worries to confident children because they don’t want to make their children feel like they need to worry about something they are not. However, anxiety can surprise us and come in unexpected situations. The last thing you want is for your confident child to realise he fears sleeping out of the home once he is already there without the skills to self-regulate.
Talk to your child about different aspects of camp and ask how he feels about it. Here is a conversation starter:
Parent: “Tom, camp is in a few weeks. How do you feel about it?”
Son: “I’m excited.”
Parent: “Do you know how camp works?”
Son: “Not really.”