At first blush this is not a bad idea. You’re eager that all go well and, truth be told, having your child go with a friend will seem less scary to both of you. However this is easier said then done. It is challenging to find a friend whose family wants them to attend the same weeks, same location, same costs and with the same focus as you want for your child. Plus, making new friends is an important part of going away to sleep-away camp. What to do?
What a child who will only go away with a friend is saying is that they are uncertain of what to expect and, like the blankie of their early years, the friend will offer the comfort and security. Who can blame them for being unsure, this is unchartered territory. You can certainly try to find a friend and let your child know that you will ask around. Meanwhile begin to share with your child all the reasons going to camp without a friend can be really great.
Tell your child that he/she is a terrific person and will make new friends at camp. Point out their strengths that will make others like them. Help identify some interests that they can explore and share at camp. Let them know how nice the counselors are and how the counselors will take care of them and help them make new camp friends. Talk with them about why others will want to be their friend. Perhaps they are especially kind or funny or smart, point out that this will be very appealing to their bunkmates. Use this opportunity to look objectively at your child and help them assess their strengths which will build their confidence. Have the directors of the camps you are considering come to your home for a visit or speak by phone to your child and ask the question about attending without a friend. They will have wonderful reassuring answers.
It only takes one successful summer experience that your child attends alone to set the stage for empowering them in the future to try things independently.