Consider Camp a Learning Experience – This is an opportunity for your child to explore a world bigger than his/her neighborhood and a chance for you and your child to practice “letting go.” Letting go allows children to develop autonomy and a stronger sense of self, make new friends, develop new social skills, learn about teamwork, be creative, and more. This time also allows you as parents an opportunity to take care of yourselves so that you will feel refreshed when your child returns home.
Prepare for Camp Together – Decisions about camp, such as where to go and what to pack, should be a joint venture while keeping in mind your child’s maturity. If your child feels a part of the decision -making process, his/her chances of having a positive experience will improve.
Listen and Talk About Concerns – As the first day of camp nears, some children are understandably uneasy about going off to camp. Rather than acting on what you believe his/her feelings to be, ask good questions such as: “We’ve been busy packing your gear. What are your thoughts about heading off to camp in a few days?” Communicate your confidence in his/her ability to handle being away from home and remind him/her about “small victories,” successes he/she has
experienced in other situations.
Have Realistic Expectations – Camp, like the rest of life, has high and low points. Not every moment will be filled with wonder and excitement. Encourage your child to have a reasonable and realistic view of camp. Discuss both the ups and downs your child may experience. Your child should not feel pressured to succeed at camp either. The main purposes of camp are to have fun, draw closer to God, and learn new skills.
When Your Child Comes Home – Give him/her time and space to get back into the routine of normal everyday life. Support the positive changes you observe. Reintroduce “house rules” with patience and awareness that your child has done some changing during his/her week at camp.