BEFORE THEIR FIRST OVERNIGHT CAMP EXPERIENCE, BE SURE YOUR CHILD…
… is interested in attending camp!
How did your child become interested in camp? Does your child talk about camp and camp activities on a sustained basis? How much persuasion is necessary from you?
It’s okay to be a little hesitant or unsure about going to camp for the first time. Typical worries about missing home or making friends are very normal! However, it is also important that you listen to your child. If they adamantly share that they don’t want to go to camp, don’t force it. They won’t be successful if they aren’t open to the experience.
… is comfortable at sleepovers.
Has your child had positive overnight experiences away from home? Visiting relatives or friends? Were these separations easy or difficult?
It is extremely important that your child has had overnight experiences away from their parents/guardians. They should have the ability to separate from you and overnight camp should NOT be their first experience away from you! At any age, kids may experience nervousness or anxiety when away from their parents or home. You may also experience similar feelings when your child is not in your care. If the nervous feelings can be articulated and addressed, camp may be a great next step!
… is becoming independent in everyday tasks.
Can your child brush their teeth, take a shower, and get dressed on their own? If your child isn’t used to being responsible for themself, they may not be ready for camp. Consider how much daily assistance your child needs.
Their counselors can give them reminders, but campers need to be able to do basic things independently. Cabin cleanup is part of every camp day, where campers make their beds, and complete other tasks like sweeping or taking out the trash. Doing chores at home indicates the child can help keep their area clean at camp. Meeting the responsibilities of the shared living experience are critical to a successful camp experience.
… gets along with their peers and can navigate conflict.
If your child is having behavioral issues or challenges connecting with their peers at home or in school, most likely these will follow them to camp. Kids who find it easy to get along with others may be more likely to be ready for camp at a younger age. Navigating social situations is a large part of the camp experience, and one of our goals for campers is to make new friends at camp!
Consider your child’s ability to share personal space with 10 or more other people. This can be challenging for kids used to their own room as well as kids used to sharing with only one other person.
… can follow directions from leaders and ask questions.
Does your child listen to adults? Are they open to advice and able to receive feedback without getting upset? Can they recover from setbacks? Can they navigate a schedule independently?
One of our goals at Echo is to ask for help! If campers need help or are having a problem, they need to be able to express their needs to their counselor until their needs are understood and met. Consider if your child can problem-solve for themselves or if they rely on you when things aren’t going as planned.
… is interested in trying new activities
What does your child expect to do at camp? Learning about the camp experience ahead of time allows you to create positive expectations.
Camp is about trying new things and gaining independence, and campers are expected to participate while at camp! Campers will choose how far they are pushed out of their comfort zone as they develop new skills. With an open mind, they will strengthen their personal identity, learn to problem-solve and navigate the world with greater autonomy.
HOW CAMP IS DIFFERENT FROM HOME AND SCHOOL
- The day lasts longer than a school day; the child will be more physically active and for a longer period of time.
- Interaction with others far exceeds time being alone (if one is ever alone!)
- Personal space is shared and at least ten other people eat at the table, often in a noisy dining hall.
PROGRESSION OF EXPERIENCES
- Consider the day camp experience to prepare them for future overnight camp.
- A 1-week session is a great introductory experience for new campers before being away for multiple weeks.
Contact the Camp Echo staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-4757400 x259 to discuss if your camper is ready for overnight camp.