The best way to ensure your child’s success at summer camp is by talking with them about what to expect before they depart. With enthusiasm and confidence tell them that sleep away camp will be a wonderful experience. It is sometimes helpful to tell them that sometimes kids get a “funny feeling” at the start of camp but that it will pass once they get into the swing of things. Does your child still sleep with a special blanket or stuffed animal? Send the blanket or a piece of it sewn into a pocket in their pillow case or tuck a well loved stuffed animal into a slit you make in a more age appropriate stuffed animal. Send a letter to the camp ahead of the opening day so your camper will have mail right away. Make them upbeat and newsy, do not say how much you miss them. Socks are often in short supply at camp. Toss in 2 or 3 extra pairs. Make a clothing list for your child and tape it on the trunk as to what you have packed. Then at the end of camp they can use it as a guide as to what to look for when packing to come home. Clothes from home often do not come back in the same condition that they left your home. Make sure what you pack you can be relaxed about.
If your child is going on a teen summer trip be sure to discuss the rules that has been sent to you ahead of time. Many programs ask parents and student to sign an agreement that indicates understanding of these rules. The programs are very clear about acceptable and non-negotiable behaviors. They reference alcohol, drugs and behavior so there should be no misunderstanding about what you as a parent expects and what the program will accept. Leave valuable cameras and iPads, iPods and cell phones home. It is very easy for them to be damaged or lost on a wilderness trip or teen tour and often the programs prohibit them. Check to see what is allowed and then determine what can be brought with the understanding that these items are at risk. It is a great opportunity for kids to unplug and focus on face to face interactions. Discuss communication between parents and kids and what they should expect. Kids on an adventure trip might not have access to phones and cell phones often do not work in rural locations.
Successful summer experiences change kids lives and open doors to unexpected opportunities.