Preparing My Child For Summer Camp, Vol. 4November 15, 2013
With the start of summer camp only months away we know that many parents are asking themselves “what steps could I take to prepare my child for summer camp?” As child development experts we have created this collection of ideas and recommendations as a resource for parents. The summer camp experience brings with it newfound responsibilities and independence.
Our recommendation is for families to focus on each of these ideas or skill sets individually, and over a one or two week period (so as not to be overwhelming). As you help your child prepare for this summer please let us know if any questions arise. We love to hear from our families, even if their children aren’t enrolled in the Kenwood and Evergreen community. We want to be a part of helping your child get ready for an incredible summer experience!
1. Help your child get into the Camp mindset
Camp presents children with many new opportunities and situations. A good example of this will be living in a bunk with six or seven other children. Your child may have their own room at home and can create personal space just by shutting a bedroom door. At Camp everyone will be living in a cabin with other people 24 hours a day, and this requires a new mindset. We recommend that families talk about how everyone can work together to foster a happy living situation in the bunk. Remind your child that bunkmates are likely at times to walk into their area or want to sit on their bed. Sometimes bunkmates borrow other camper’s belongings and forget to ask. Campers who are not used to cleaning up after themselves will be asked to do so. These are important things to think about as you all get ready for Camp.
2. Make a plan for personal responsibility
Camp will be a fun adventure this summer, but it also requires that campers take on more responsibility than they might at home. We recommend that new campers practice making their bed without being reminded by mom or dad. We also recommend that campers practice putting away dirty clothes, shoes, athletic equipment and toys as soon as they are done with them. It will be each camper’s responsibility to know where his or her belongings are this summer! Lastly, it’s a good idea for new campers to get used to showering and brushing their teeth without a reminder from mom or dad (even though our counselors will be reminding them during the summer!).
3. Vary the night time routine
Camp does not always follow the same bedtime schedule, especially if we have a really cool evening activity like 4th of July Fireworks, Jell-O Wrestling, or Hollowpallooza. If your family is used to a fairly regular bed time routine each night (reading a particular book, listening to certain songs, etc.), make sure to vary it a bit in the weeks and months before Camp. Our counselors will be there to put our campers to bed each night, but not always at the exact same time or in the exact same way. It’s good to get used to a little bit of variety.
4. Schedule sleepovers
As part of varying the nighttime routine we recommend scheduling some sleepovers with friends, cousins, or grandparents. Sleepovers are a lot like being at Camp. You get to be with someone you enjoy spending time with, and you are away from home over night. A good way to practice being at Camp is to have a couple of sleepovers at friends’ houses and also at a relative’s. Most campers find that with each sleepover being away from home gets to be much more fun!
5. Practice writing letters home
Campers at our summer camp in NH are asked to write home three times a week. Moms and dads often tell us that their campers don’t say much in their letters (“Dear Mom, Camp is fun. Love Jack”). Parents want letters from summer camp to tell them about all of the fun adventures and about the friendships their children are making. It may sound silly, but we recommend practicing writing letters from Camp while your child is still at home.
After a sleepover have your child write a letter that talks about the different things they did while they were away. Ask them to do their best to explain what they liked or didn’t like about the overnight. Working on this skill before Camp should make writing letters home much easier during the summer.
6. Create a list of questions to lesson the unknowns
Most of our campers (and parents!) think of lots of great questions before their first summer at Kenwood & Evergreen. We recommend keeping a piece of paper on the refrigerator and labeling it “Questions About Camp”. Whenever a question comes up write it down. When your family thinks that the list is long enough send us an email or call us in the Camp Office. We LOVE hearing from families during the year, and would love to answer each and every one of your questions. You can reach us at email@example.com, or at 781-793-0091.
7. Work on Self-Advocacy
This summer is going to be an incredible experience of growth, fun and excitement, but we also know that there are going to be some bumps along the way. It’s hard for some campers to let adults know when they are having a tough moment. We really need your child to be prepared to share with their counselors, unit leader, and with us if they are having any difficulties, even if the issues are really, really small. Small issues can become big issues if left unresolved! If we don’t know about them we won’t be able to work on them!
8. Help pack for Camp
We bet that you are going to send your child to Camp with some really cool stuff. It would be a shame if they didn’t know that mom or dad had packed them in their bags! As much as it may lengthen the time it takes to pack, please try and include your child in this process. It will go a long way towards helping them become more responsible for their own belongings. Make sure that they know what their raincoat looks like, how many pairs of shoes they are bringing, and what cool stuff they should be keeping track of this summer.
9. Get familiar with some of Camp’s names and faces
Since you are now members of our Camp family we want to make sure that you get to know some of the people who run Camps Kenwood & Evergreen, and our places and traditions. In November we sent our new families a handout called “Information & Answers For The Summer, vol. 1”. If you have not yet, please share these with your child! And in early January we will be sending families The Official Camps Kenwood & Evergreen Encyclopedia. If you would like a copy of any of our educational materials please email us! Thanks.
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