Summer camps are just around the corner, and you may be getting ready to send your child off on his first adventure. Nervous? Don’t worry—many parents have gone through this rite of passage. As apprehensive as you may feel, here’s what you can do to make summer camp a positive experience for everyone.
• Arrange for practice time away from home. Spending the weekend with grandma or a few nights with a friend can create feelings of independence and boost confidence so kids can cope with longer separations from home.
• Discuss how letter writing will help the family stay connected. Kids love to receive letters at camp, primarily because it’s reassuring to hear that everyone at home (including siblings and pets) is doing fine. You could even send a letter to camp before opening day, so your child gets mail right away.
• Use a calendar to show the camp’s opening and closing days. This gives your child a visual reminder of how short camp really is.
• Include your campers in the packing process. Have them go over the checklist of what to bring, plus encourage them to pack their favorite book, stuffed animal, pillow—anything to make them feel secure during moments of homesickness. Save on necessities like shampoo, sun block, insect repellent and hand sanitizers.
• Go over the camp schedule. Talk to your little campers about the activities offered at summer camp as well as what a typical day will look like. They will be more likely to enjoy themselves if they’re not worried about what is going to happen next.
Also, make sure to explain to your kids how they can get a hold of you, day or night, while they’re away. This will ease some of the separation anxiety. Many children are okay with being away from their parents as long as they know they can reach them at any time.