With summer upon us, millions of children will be preparing to attend summer sleep away camps. While some children eagerly anticipate this time away from home, for others it can be an emotional experience.
If your child will be heading to summer sleep away camp for the first time this summer, I have a few tips to help your child face homesickness and to help your child not only survive summer camp but to enjoy it and thrive.
Strategies to Help Your Child Prepare for Summer Camp
Begin with practice sleepovers. Choose a relative or family friend’s house to adapt your child to being away from home for the night.
Chart your child’s progress. Construct a chart by marking successful overnight stays to serve as a visible reminder of his progress.
Visit summer camps. Fear of the unknown is terrifying for many first-time campers. Familiarizing your child with a summer camp setting will help put his mind at ease. Let him see what a camp looks like and where the important things (lunch hall, bathrooms, bunks) are located.
Meet the camp director. The camp director can make or break your child’s first summer camp experience. Introduce them and allow them to interact before camp begins.
Offer reassurance. Long before the bags have been packed, offer upbeat words of encouragement. Never discuss how much your child will be missed back home. Instead, keep the focus on them and the positive camp experience. Resist calling your children at camp too often. This contact may sabotage their efforts to separate and succeed on their own.