Summer camp represents independence and freedom for kids who embrace the opportunity to spend several weeks away from home. Yet, new and younger campers sometimes need a little help getting over those jitters that accompany trying something new. Now that the opening date for summer camp is just around the corner, you can use these strategies to help your child prepare emotionally for a fun-filled season.
Plan a Practice Session
While you might not be able to send your child to camp until the season opens, you can still find ways for them to practice spending the night away from home. For younger children, ask a family member or a close friend if your child can stay at their house for a night or two. This gives both you and your child a chance to get used to spending time apart overnight. And you can ask for a report from your loved one that helps you gauge your child’s readiness.
Get Them Excited About the Activities
Camp is the one place where kids can try out tons of new activities they would never be able to do at home. After all, most families just don’t have aerial hoops hanging in a state-of-the-art gym. And your kid would never be able to go waterskiing in the backyard pool. Talk to your children about a few of the amazing things they will get to try this summer. Then, watch some videos online of people performing tricks in your child’s favorite sport. You might also help them practice a few skills that they can do at home to increase the excitement. For instance, your little gymnast could practice stretching to prepare for their trampoline training.
Let Them Know They Can Reach Out
Up until this point, your son or daughter has always known that they could reach you easily any time they needed help. While you know that you are still just a short trip away, your little camper may worry about how they will handle things on their own. Typically, summer camp programs encourage parents to limit phone calls. This allows kids to have a chance to develop their independence. However, you can still set it up so that your kid can send special messages to you online using their summer camp’s email service. Once that is set up, help them pick out some awesome stationary and stock them up on stamps so that they know it’s possible to let you know how things are going.
Take Technology Breaks
While homesickness is always a concern, kids today also worry about leaving behind their online social life. If your child is used to turning to their smartphone to relieve boredom or catch up with an old friend, then help them start to break the habit now by implementing technology breaks at home. Grab some board games, books and art supplies to keep your kid busy, or encourage them to get out of the house and go for a bike ride. Either way, he or she will be better able to walk away from their electronic devices without suffering from feelings of withdrawal.
Whether your kid is going to camp for the first time or just seems a little nervous this year, keep in mind that they are also looking to you to figure out how to feel. As you talk to them about their upcoming season, remember to reflect confidence and excitement about the many adventures offered at their new home away from home.