5 things to do to get ready for camp
Summer camp prep & survival guide
Think back to early in the new year, and you were so proud you registered your child for summer camp instead of scrambling at the last minute as usual. (Ummmm, that’s not just me, right?) In your mind, camp was months and months away. Well, you were right, but now those months have passed, and you’re left wondering how that happened and what to do to get you and your child ready for camp.
You’ve done your research and chose the best camp for your child, so yeah you for already having those items checked off the list! Whether or not your child is headed to day camp or to overnight camp, like Avid4 Adventure’s Colorado Mountain Camp, we know they may have concerns, so let’s talk about the best ways to get prepared.
- Talk to your kids. Find out if your kids are nervous, excited, worried or curious. Chances are, they’re all of those things. Maybe they’re excited to make new friends, but also nervous about having to make new friends. Maybe they’re curious to try new things, but they’re also a bit worried about those same new things. Listen, listen and listen some more to what your child has to say and don’t try and talk him out of his feelings. Instead, explain it’s natural to have all of those emotions – especially when you’re trying something new – and that you know he’s ready and can handle it.
- Get ready. Get set. Explain. Talk to your kids about what they can expect from camp. While all camps are different, they thrive on consistency, and I bet your camp already has a schedule of daily events. If you child is going to overnight camp, be sure she knows what to expect from everything from meals to sleeping arrangements to bathroom facilities. (I can’t be the only one with vivid memories (and not the good kind) of finding out I had to use a latrine. To this day, my parents won’t admit if they knew that tidbit beforehand or purposely decided not to tell me. I have my hunch . . . and a forever fear of snapping turtles.) Most camps, like Avid4 Adventure, have Pre-Camp Guides for day and overnight camps. Read through all of these materials and make sure you understand everything you need, including paperwork and parent/camper communication.
- Gather stuff ahead of time. Find out your camp’s suggested packing list – even for day camp – and put everything out a few weeks before camp. Really, do you want to find out the night before camp starts that your child’s winter growth spurt now renders their swimsuit a hand-me-down for someone else? Compare the packing list to what you already have and determine what you need, and involve your child in every step of the process. Don’t forget to put your child’s name on every article of clothing, water bottle, tube of sunscreen, towel, and well, you get the point.
- Gather the stuff that doesn’t belong in a backpack. So, we know there are the tangibles that have to go to camp, but I bet your child may need a reminder about the intangibles that are necessary for the best possible camp experience. Talk to your kiddo about bringing an open mind to meeting new people and a sense of adventure for trying new things. Remind them that their positive attitude will go a super long way to making their camp experience memorable.
- Reduce homesickness. Your child is going to miss home, but remind him that so will every other child . . . and probably a few staff members, too. Remember that even day camp can be intimidating for first-time campers. The “known” is much less scary than the “unknown,” and we’ve already talked about telling your kids what to expect. If you can visit camp beforehand, do it. If your kids are at overnight camp, be sure to have a letter waiting for them when they arrive. And, because, we know you’re going to miss your campers, make it easy for them to write you by packing a few self-addressed stamped envelopes. Heads up not to be alarmed if you get the desperate “Get me out of here” or “This place is the worst” type of letter. We know kids can be a tad dramatic, and besides, they may need time to adjust.
Let’s be realistic with expectations. Camp is like everything else . . . there will be highs and lows and everything in between. Being prepared and knowing what to expect will go a long way to making both you and your camper more comfortable with the experience. I know it’s not easy. Believe me. I know. Just today, my son told me, “You don’t want me to go to overnight camp because you’re having a problem with me growing up.” After I gnawed on the side of my lip, wreaked havoc on my cuticles and thought about it, he was right. Maybe I’ll read my advice above and cut the cord.
About the Author: Lynne Marsala Basche spent most of her career on the island of Manhattan at two New York publishing companies. A multi-year Avid4 Adventure mom and a new contributor to the Avid4 Adventure website, Lynne’s writing adventures also take her to championing volunteerism and regional recreation stories as a staff writer for the Castle Pines Connection newspaper, as well as supporting separate large corporate communications programs. By trying to keep pace with her mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, lacrosse playing, unicycling, tae kwon do-loving 11-year old son, she, like most Avid4 parents, loves sharing the value of outdoor recreation and its positive influence on children’s health and confidence development. Lynne lives in Castle Pines, Colorado and regularly immerses herself in outdoor activities with her family where she also runs her freelance writing company, Blue Spruce Creative