HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Preparing your child for Summer Camp - either a day camp or a sleepaway camp - is a necessity, especially for first-time campers.
It all starts with letting your children assist in the selection of their summer camp. A child is much more apt to have a positive experience if he or she feels they are a part of the decision making process.
Answer all of your child's questions. No concern of your child is too small. Let them visit the camp's website, look at any brochures/DVDs provided. Take them to the camp's open house if one is offerred.
Read books with your children about going to summer camp. Relay your own camp experiences. Have your child talk with a sibling, cousin, or other similar-age relative with summer camp experience.
Encourage your child. Summer camp may offer new opportunities such as swimming and horseback riding. If you think these activities may make your child uncomfortable, inform camp personnel. At the same time, however, try and expose your child to these activities ahead of time. Be excited. If you're enthusiastic about their chance to try something new, they will be too. Stay positive and optimistic about their upcoming adventures.
For a sleepaway camp, make sure your child has spent a few night away from home. A sleep-over at a friend's house, or a weekend with an aunt/uncle or grandmother/grandfather, is a great opportunity to gauge their comfort level for being away. Also, let them know that feeling 'homesick' is completely normal and okay.
Let your child assist in preparing for the necessities of camp. Whether it's allowing them pick the type of sunscreen they want or a new bathing suit, or having them make sure sure all their clothes and belongings have their name on them, getting your child involved will help ease the anxiety.
In the end, focus on the excitement and opportunities of camp - new friends, new experiences, and a summer full of fun!