The beginning of camp can be both exciting and scary for kids leaving home for the first time. Though you may not be able to ease their fears entirely, there are steps that parents can take to make the transition easier until they settle in and start to enjoy the experience.
Talk about camp openly and honestly with your children well before summer arrives. Answer any questions that they have and discuss any concerns they raise. Explain the fun activities that they’ll get to do without idealizing summer camp so much that it’s impossible for it to live up to their expectations.
Try to visit the site before they go so that they can get used to the facilities and amenities in advance.
Practice time away from home in advance by allowing your children to stay over at a relative or close friend’s house. It will help them to feel comfortable about staying somewhere else overnight
Teach your children how to perform basic tasks (if they don’t know already) such as making their bed, folding clothes, personal hygiene, etc.
Sometimes parents have a more difficult time adjusting than their children but this is not for children to worry about – children take their cues about how to react from the trusted adults in their lives, so if they see you worrying and being anxious, they are more likely to do the same.
Prepare and send a care package with them so that children have home comforts with them when they arrive like a favourite book or sweater, for example.
Explain that this is a natural reaction almost everyone experiences and that it passes in time. Most camping experts agree that offering the “you can come home at any time” option may, in fact, sabotage a child’s chance of sticking camp out through any initial rough patches. Instead, encourage your child to speak to a counsellor and reassure them that adjusting to camp life will take some time. If your child seems truly miserable, determine how long you’re willing to wait it out before allowing them to come home, and discuss it with the camp counsellor to gain a better understanding of the situation.
Don’t inundate kids with calls every day. Respect the policies of the camp.
Hearing from you at home is treasured by most kids at camp. Just be careful not to dwell on how much is going on at home or emphasize how much you miss them as this can trigger homesickness.
Sure, it’s tough not being there to comfort your child during the transition period, but remember why you opted for summer camp in the first place – the fresh air, engaging activities and bonds that can be created offer happy childhood memories and skill-building experiences that are an important part of your child’s future.
For additional information and resources about your family’s needs, contact Family Support Services through your Employee and Family Assistance Program at workhealthlife.com or call 1 866 833-7690.