I say this every year and I do it because it’s such an important reminder. It’s that: It’s never to early to prepare your child (and yourself as a parent) for summer camp!
For one thing, those summer dates just creep up on you like nothing else. One day you’re bristling with the unrelenting winter cold and the next it’s the last week of school and in what seems like a few seconds it’s Opening Day at camp! Really, it happens that fast.
In fact, before I even say anything else you should pause for a moment and order your daughter’s camp clothing labels. There’s nothing more aggravating than preparing for camp the day before and remembering that you never ordered her labels! So order now so they will already be there.
So, on to other prep.
Why get ready for camp?
There are a few things that are happening as you’re getting your child ready for camp. They are:
- Physical preparations (getting and labeling and packing gear).
- Administrative preparations (visiting the doctor, getting all your paperwork in, organizing directions, timing, etc.)
- Emotional and psychological preparations (for your child and YOU!)
At first glance that might sound like a lot. But you’ve been doing this for years for babysitters, schools, sports teams, dance lessons, etc. Trust me, you’ve got this! But, a few tips wouldn’t hurt either.
That’s why I was so glad to see a new CampHacker blog post and video — “Prepare your child for summer camp” — by Dr. Chris Thurber (a clinical psychologist — see his full bio here) in cooperation with Everything Summer Camp (a great resource that you can use for getting many of your supplies in order for camp).
Dr. Thurber recommends ten easy steps for preparing you and your child for camp and even offers some short videos (see below) to help you quickly master the basics.
Golden nuggets of advice
To me, one of the most important bits of his advice is to involve your child in the process with you. After all, she’s the one coming to camp and when she’s at camp, she’ll be the one managing her gear and organizing her laundry and relating to the rest of the camp family.
By involving her in the process right from the beginning, your daughter is a willing stakeholder and much more familiarized with everything thing that’s going on. Involving her also helps make camp feel more routine and less foreign — in this case knowledge is power and she’ll be much more knowledgeable if you include her. And it builds responsibility and some self-reliance, two good skills that will foster resilience, one of the most important human qualities any of us can have, kids included.
I also think Dr. Thurber’s advice to “practice time away from home,” is excellent. Time with grandma and grandpa or a favorite aunt, slumber parties and sleepovers are all good ways to do this. Even a trip to a museum with friends, or to a sports event can help your child build confidence about doing things “on her own.”
Dr. Thurber has a lot more excellent advice and, given that even parents need the best preparation, I suggest you watch these two short videos to get up to speed on what ten things you can do to make the transition to camp easiest on everyone. And the end of video #2 has a special offer so watch until the end to get that!
We’ll also post a part two blog post about prepping especially geared to our Mini Campers. So watch for that next week.
Happy prepping and we’ll see you at camp!
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls