Camp can be a phenomenal experience for a child. An opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends, expand their social skills and gain a little more independence. So why not sign them up and ship them off for the summer of their lives? You don’t want to push them into camp before they are ready. If they come to camp before they are ready, it will only damage the experience for that child.
Ideally a child will start to be ready for camp at around 7 or 8 years old. Many camps will not accept campers younger then 7 years old. Other camps may start a little younger. A child’s maturity will play a big part in this decision. Some children are ready to ride off into the sunset for a summer away from home at a young age. There is also the case where some campers age 12 and over who couldn’t fathom being away from home for the summer.
If the child has spent one night or multiple nights away from home they may be ready for camp. Spending the night at a friend’s house, an aunt or uncle’s house, or some other sleep over is a good testing ground for overnight camp. If your child did not experience any homesickness in those short overnight stays, it’s probably a good sign that they would do well at camp. A good idea is to start with a shorter camp session to begin with, just to test the waters one would say. Some children are ready to jump full with a 2 or 4-week stay at camp, but that really depends on the child and the parent. Not only does the child need to be ready for such a commitment but also the parent must be confident in that decision. There will always be some hesitation in sending your child away from home for weeks at a time. So it’s important to know your child’s ready and that you have chosen the right camp for them.
If your child has been talking about camp or just showing some interest in the possibility of camp, it’s a sure bet that as a parent you should at least start exploring the idea. These days there’s a camp for almost every child and every possible specialty. You can find the camps that will help your child excel at academics or horseback riding, tennis, computers, or even marine biology. There’s a camp for all interests. However for a child just starting out a traditional camp is probably your best bet, with well-rounded experiences with many traditions and years of experience. A traditional camp will offer campers an opportunity to try out camp and test out different skills and activities. It’s not a place where you worry about being the best at any given sport or activity. Kids have enough to worry about in their day-to-day lives, but at camp we try to keep those pressures away.
Ultimately if your child is at least 7 years old, has spent a successful night way from home and has shown some interest in camp, then you should probably start looking for the camp that will best fit them. Children need that downtime away from the pressures of everyday life. They need time to try new things and make their own mistakes away from home. Camp is an experience that will benefit your child for years to come. Benefits from increased self-esteem, to increased social interaction and preparedness, independence and most of all they will have a lot of FUN.