Before you and your spouse pop open the champagne bottle to celebrate your kids leaving for camp this summer, it may
be wise to prepare all key aspects of their send-off to ensure for a smooth transition.
Whether your kids are first time camp-goers or avid summer campers (i.e., they know all the camp counselors’ names by heart), parents should plan summer camp logistics ahead of time. This will prevent you from scrambling and stressing about the few remaining (good) camps left to register for a week before camp season commences. It also means avoiding the camp phoning your cellphone at 2 in the morning because you forgot to pack your child’s EpiPen.
Here are some tips for those planning their child’s first (or 10th) summer camp experience:
Look into the different types of summer camps offered. Once you have a better idea of what your kid(s) will benefit from the most, register as soon as possible to avoid the wait list and resorting to your kid’s 3rd or 4th choice camps. See a list of Ontario summer camps here: http://www.camps.ca/ontario_camps.php. Before registering, read all the fine print and ensure your kid(s) meet all the requirements, such as the minimum age requirement.
Keep a list of all camp contacts and their direct phone numbers. Save them in your cellphone, give the information to your spouse, and post it on your fridge with a magnet. (This is obviously for first-timers to alleviate their irrational fear of their child getting bitten by a wolf).
For first-time camp-goers, get your kids motivated and encourage them to have high spirits about attending camp, especially if they are expressing any reservations and anxiety. (Nonchalantly playing a movie about the joys of summer camps is one idea). We like Heavyweights and Camp Nowhere. It is the mentality that your child brings to camp that will determine the outcome. Here’s a list of other entertaining summer camp films to get them in the mood: http://www.glamour.com/gallery/10-summer-camp-movies-we-love. Also, check to see if the camp you choose has any videos posted on their website, and watch it with your young ones to give them an idea of what they can anticipate. (Hopefully the camp has a blob)!
Encourage your kids to speak up. To help your children get the most out of camp, encourage them to avoid being timid and ask their camp counsellor(s) questions whenever they are unsure of something. A child that knew that they were allowed to use the canoes during the day time versus a child that didn’t know will have more fun. In addition, this will allow more ease in talking to other fellow campers and making friends.
Thoroughly research about the specific camp you end up choosing. Read up on the proper clothing, equipment and other supplies that your child should (or should not) bring with them. If possible, try to get them to leave their video games and other tech gadgets at home. This is a chance for them to fully embrace and appreciate the outdoors and all that it has to offer.
For the summer camp gurus, try to encourage your kids to try new programs and activities. If they’ve always signed up for arts and crafts, encourage them to try sports-related activities such as swimming or beach volleyball. From archery to paddle making to kayaking, many camps offer a myriad of activities that your young ones will be sure to find a thrill in. Whatever the activity be, have them step out of their shell and try something new (and even scary). This will help get them out of their comfort zone, build self-esteem, discover new, enriching experiences and create even more memories.
Though your initial concerns will revolve around whether or not you have packed enough sunscreen and bug spray, once you have fully prepared for your kid’s departure, the only thing you will have to worry about is how to top off next summers experience.