Summer Camp 101 For Parents

Education & Development Articles

Summertime means camp for thousands of kids across the country. With so many different camps to choose from, it can be difficult to pick the right one for your child. Summer camp can also be expensive, not to mention worrisome for parents and, sometimes, even kids. Clearly, there's a lot to think about when considering summer camp for kids. In this article, learn how to tell if your child is ready for camp, how to select the best camp, and how to prepare yourself and your child before the day arrives.

How to Know When Your Child is Ready for Summer Camp

Spending time, particularly overnight, away from home can be nerve-wracking for parents and children. Summer camp can be an amazing and educational experience that you want your kids to have, but sending them before they're ready can backfire.

To ensure that your child is ready for sleepover camp, consider the following:

  • Age. There is no hard or fast rule about how old your child should be to go to camp. According to the American Camp Association, the average age for a first trip to camp is between seven and nine years old. However, a less mature 10 year old may not be ready while a mature six year old is.
  • Sleepover experience. A child that enjoys spending the night with friends or grandparents is probably more apt to enjoy a sleepover camp than a child who doesn't. It's important to talk to your child about their expectations to help you decide if they are ready for camp.
  • The camp. When determining whether your child is ready for camp, you'll also need to know the average age of the campers at a particular camp. Select a camp that primarily includes children in the same age range as your child. For first-time campers, it's also important that there is a low child-to-counselor ratio. You will want to feel confident that there is adequate supervision and support for your child should they have a hard time.

The bottom line is that you are the best judge of whether or not your son or daughter is ready for camp. Talk to your child, research the camp and rely on your own best judgment.

How to Select an Good Camp for Your Child

There are many, many summer camps around the country to choose from, and it can be hard to know what to look for. When selecting a summer camp for your child, look for:

  • A camp that has an open-house or offers parental references
  • A camp that has been in business for many years
  • A well-trained staff
  • Activities that interest your child
  • A camp that values community
  • A high standard of accreditation

When researching camps, you'll also want to find a camp that lays out a specific communication plan to ensure that you'll know how your child is doing, what events you can attend and that makes communication between parent and child available.

Not all summer camps are created equal. Ask the camps you are interested in if they are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). The ACA visits camps regularly to review programs, facilities, safety procedures and hiring policies. You can rest assured that an ACA camp maintains very high standards. However, there are camps without ACA accreditation that are also very well run. When considering unaccredited camps, be prepared to ask more questions and do more research.

How to Prepare Your Child and Yourself for Summer Camp

Getting ready for summer camp for the first time can be nerve-wracking for you and your child. The key to the entire process is preparation – taking the right steps to ready everyone for a fun-filled summer.

The following tips will help ensure that your child is ready and willing to go:

  1. Involve your child. Let your child help with the decision-making process. If possible, visit potential options together. Otherwise, visit websites or read other materials about camp options together.
  2. Focus on the positive. Even if your child is ready for camp, they may still feel anxious or nervous. Help your child get excited by talking about the activities they're going to enjoy. Look at photos of the camp together and talk about all the fun they'll have.
  3. Pack something familiar. Let your child choose one or two items from home, like a stuffed toy or a photo, to help them feel more at home and less anxious at camp.
  4. Share your own experiences. Talk to your child about times when you felt nervous about going to camp or visiting a new place and how much fun you ended up having.
  5. Listen. Listen to your child's concerns. Help them understand that it's OK to feel nervous and reinforce the positives of their adventure.

Your child may be uneasy, but chances are good that you're worried enough for the both of you! Like when you watched your child ride their bike for the first time or took them to their first day of school, you'll probably be on the verge of tears when they leave for camp.

To help you survive while your son or daughter is away, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Let go of the little things. All parents, especially mothers, worry about tooth brushing, hair combing, getting enough sleep, etc. Don't worry! Camp counselors will make sure that your child isn't turning wild enough to be adopted by wolves. If they come home a little stinky, a shower will take care of that.
  2. Your child may look like a wild animal – don't panic. Remember that your child is at camp. They will probably lose some weight with all the running around and constant activity. There will be mosquitoes and they will get bitten. They'll be scratched up and look a mess. Remember to expect it – and don't schedule any family photo sessions for the day they come home.

Summer camp is a rite of passage and a significant step toward independence for many kids, but it's important that parents and kids feel good and secure about the camp they choose. Use the tips in this article to help select the best camp for your child and to help you and your son or daughter prepare for an exciting adventure.


17 June 2015

Learning for a Lifetime

Ever since I was a small child, I submersed myself in books. Whenever I started a new work of literature, I was instantly transported to another exciting world. Besides burying myself in books, I also actually enjoyed going to school in order to learn new things. My love affair with learning motivated me to earn four college degrees. As an adult, I still enjoy becoming educated about unfamiliar things. Thankfully, I don’t ever have to stop learning. Many colleges and universities regularly provide continuing education courses for those whose thirst for knowledge is never quenched. Regardless of whether you wish to learn how to sew, dance, or excavate ancient ruins, you can discover your passion in a continuing education class. On this blog, you will find out more about this incredible opportunity to learn for a lifetime. Enjoy!