Thumbs up on deciding to send your kids to camp! Here’s why it’s a good idea and how to prep:
Camp is one of the best investments one can make for their child. It is not just a destination, it is a fun-filled educational process where children grow socially, physically, emotionally, individually, spiritually and intellectually, preparing them for an enriched life ahead.
Camp offers a structured environment where children interact with positive role-models who have time to listen, talk, relax, teach and reflect with children. Kids learn to work together at camp, make wise choices, take responsibility, develop creative skills, build independence and become self-reliant as well as gain confidence in themselves. Schools often don’t have time to help kids discover and explore their talents, interests and values. At camp children learn to problem–solve and make social adjustments to new and different people while gaining new skills to increase their own self–esteem and leadership skills.
Often children sit at home in the summer time watching T.V., snacking, playing video games, texting and not getting enough physical exercise.
Camp not only gives children something to look forward to for the summer, but also gives kids a fun-filled setting where their camp curriculum serves as a catalyst to stimulate individual growth.
Camp does require some preparation. Here are a few tips to make the summer smooth and enjoyable for both parents and child.
- If possible, visit the camp ahead of time or call families who have been to the same camp to talk about their experiences. Check to see if the camp is accredited and how long the camp has been established.
- Set goals for camp: If taking horseback riding, aim to learn how to saddle a horse, post at a trot, groom a horse or go on a trail ride. In archery, decide you want to hit the target. Help your child plan to sign up for new activities like tennis, drama and photography.
- Before camp, have your child practice being away from home, especially if it is their first time away from home. Have your child spend the night with grandparents or another close friend.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep, like “It won’t rain at camp” or “there won’t be bugs.” Don’t tell them you will come pick them up if they don’t like camp or you will be there on Family Day if you know you can’t make it. For sure, don’t give them a cell phone and tell them you are only a phone call away. This sets them up for failure. Tell them you are excited about the many things they will learn. You look forward to hearing about the new friends they will make as well as hear about the horses they have ridden, cool counselors and even what they saw at talent night. They may want to practice a song, or dance for talent night before coming to camp.
- Write your child upbeat letters while they are at camp and give them postcards already addressed and stamped.
- Put your child’s name in their clothes and any items they may bring to camp like tennis rackets, cameras or riding helmets.
Your child is going to have an amazing time at camp. They will grow and develop life-long skills. Camps provide the right instruction, equipment and facilities for kids to enhance their sports abilities, their artistic talents and their adventure skills. The sheer variety of activities offered at camp makes it easy for children to discover and develop what they like to do.
By Roberta Richmond , Camp Dovewood in O’brien, Florida
Originally published in the April 2018 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.