Overnight Camp – Is My Child Ready?

By in Parenting on 25 May 2010

As the school year nears an end, you may be thinking about what your children will do during the summer. This is particularly an issue if both parents work. Your child may be asking to go to an overnight camp, and you may wonder if they are ready.

Perhaps you never went to camp when you were a child so you don’t have a frame of reference. You may not know how to determine your child’s readiness. Here are some ideas to help you make that decision.

Take your cue from your children. In many cases they’re able to determine their readiness before a parent does. If they’re interested, it’s a good chance they’re ready.

Has your child spent the night with a friend or relative before? Children who are able to be away from parents before are more likely to be good candidates for an overnight camp experience. However, if this is your child’s first experience with overnight camp, see if any of their friends are also attending so they’ll be less likely to experience problems.

Consider sending your child for a shorter session for their first time at overnight camp. By having only one or two weeks away, instead of the 4-8 week sessions which were common in the past, your child will be more likely to stick out the entire session.

How responsible is your child? Can they keep track of their own things and wash their clothes if they’re going to be gone for several weeks? Are they responsible enough to use camp money to purchase things they need rather than candy or other junk food?

Each child is an individual. Even if you were eager to go to overnight camp at the age of nine, that doesn’t necessarily mean your child will when they turn the same age. If they are uncomfortable spending one night at a friend’s without calling you, they are not ready for overnight camp.

Is your child comfortable seeking help from other adults or authority figures if you’re not around? Children who are still attached to their parents often want help only from those they are comfortable with. A child with this tendency may need more time before going to overnight camp.

Picky eaters may also have difficulty at overnight summer camps. The staff may prepare special meals for a child with allergies or religious beliefs which limits what they can eat. However, they’re not going to be willing to prepare a special meal for a child simply because they don’t like what’s being served.

If you ask other parents how they could tell if their child was ready for overnight camp, you’ll likely get a number of answers. When it comes to staying at an overnight camp, you’re the best person to determine if your child is prepared. Look through these tips to help, but then ultimately trust your child to know if they’re ready or not.

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Quin says:

    For us the biggest concern was staying in touch with them, 2 weeks with no contact would have been really tough on all of us. A friend told us about a getting a cheap prepaid phone from like net10 just to keep in touch and that really helped so much, and the kids had a blast at camp.

  2. Dottie Reed says:

    The concept of “letting go” has certainly changed over the years. Children were often off exploring for hours at a time with their friends, ready to share their tales at the dinner table. Today’s immediacy of communication (a cell phones in every pocket) allows us to keep tabs on one another more easily, making it more difficult for parents to give “space” to their kids. Summer camps “partner” with parents to foster independence in children and support parents in letting go. Please read “Ready for Camp?” found here: http://blog.camppemi.com/news/ready-for-camp/

    All the best,
    Dottie Reed
    Camp Pemigewassett

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