How to Prepare Your Children for Summer Camp?
Summer camp is an adventure for most children. They love the idea of long summer days, making new friends, and trying new things. However, some children seem to resist the idea. These children are sometimes shy when meeting new people and hesitant to try new things.
If your child falls into this second group, don’t fear!
Summer camp is the ideal time to help this second group of children break out of their shells and show them that ways that new experiences can enrich their lives.
Whether you are sure your child will resist the idea of summer camp—or you have a child who has never been to summer camp and doesn’t know what to expect—here are some techniques to start using now to get them prepared in time for summer break.
1 – Share your own experiences
Have you ever been away to summer camp? Make the concept of a summer program relatable by sharing some stories about your own experiences.
For instance, if you played softball for the first time at summer camp and ended up going to college on a scholarship, share that positive story. Or, if you uncovered a hidden talent for sculpting clay and still unwind by creating ceramics to this day, they will be reassured to hear about it.
2 – Build their confidence
Some children are naturally quiet or shy. There’s nothing wrong with this; these are often the children who are the most tender-hearted once they’ve warmed up to new people.
The first day of summer camp is like the first day of school—exciting and frightening at the same time!
Reassure your child that summer camp will be an adventure and that they will make new friends and have fun over summer break. They might not believe this at first, but you are the person they trust the most. With your guidance, they will soon learn to believe in themselves.
3 – Take them along for a tour
Whether you’ve already selected a summer camp for your kids, or you are just starting to tour a few, take the kiddos along with you.
Including them will allow your children to meet some of the staff members before the first day and gently introduce them to the environment. Then, on the first day of summer camp, they will be likely to encounter some familiar faces and feel more at ease.
The camp staff won’t mind the visit. After all, it’s their job to make your child comfortable, and they want to earn your business.
4 – Ask their opinion
This bit of advice can be a bit loaded. You don’t want to ask your children if they want to attend summer camp. Instead, ask them their opinion about which of the programs you have visited they would prefer—and take time to find out why.
Just like adults, children like to feel that their input is valued. Considering their opinion can make your children feel empowered and confident—and perhaps even feel like going to camp was their idea all along!
5 – Explain the summer camp program
The best summer camps have a fairly structured environment that’s blended with play time.
For example, our summer camp in Sienna Plantation and Sugar Land, TX offers a summer theme this year of “A World of Fun Under One Sun,” with fun but educational focus every week.
Learn the camp’s theme or program focus and share it with your child. Understanding how the program is structured and what they can expect to do each day of camp can be reassuring. You might even spark excitement and dispel some of their underlying concerns in one fell swoop.
6 – Let them know it’s ok to feel scared
For some children, the reason they are apprehensive about camp is the fear of the unknown. Whether this fear stems from the prospect of meeting other children, anxiety about camp counselors, or just being unfamiliar with the environment in general, that’s okay.
It’s natural to be scared; in fact, it’s a normal and healthy emotion. Once you’ve validated their feelings, they might open up and help you work through them.
7 – Be well-prepared for the summer camp experience
Get your child pumped up about summer camp by letting them help you shop for everything they need to prepare for camp.
Much like back-to-school shopping, summer camp shopping will equip them with all that they need. Your camp might not give you a supplies list (most will provide the day-to-day items) but let them pick out a new favorite summer camp outfit or two, sturdy athletic footwear for the summer, and a backpack to carry all their daily essentials.
This strategy works similarly to asking your children for their opinion on the camp—it makes them feel as if they have input and that you value it.
8 – Recruit a friend
If your children feel considerably uncomfortable about attending summer camp, consider recruiting a friend to attend, also.
Does your child have a best friend from school or the neighborhood whose parents are also likely to be looking for summer camp? Give the parents a call and share information about the program. It might be just what they are looking for—and your child will be comforted having a familiar friend attending with them.
The Bottom Line
While most kids love the adventure that lies ahead during summer camp week (or weeks), some might find the concept overwhelming.
That hesitance is particularly true for children who have never experienced camp in the past or those who are shy when meeting new people.
Of course, you want your children to have a wonderful camp experience that allows them to learn new things, meet new people, and have a great time. The actions you begin to take right now can help your children prepare for summer camp right now can set them up for success.
Looking for a summer camp in Fort Bend County, Texas?
Please consider Montessori School of Sugar Land Summer Camp in Sienna Plantation or Sugar Land. We have children attend from Missouri City, Sienna Plantation, Fresno, Stafford, and Sugar Land spend their summers with us. We’d welcome the chance to meet your children, too.