At this time of year, families all over the country are asking a similar question with regards to their summer plans – is it time to try sleepaway camp? Although summer may seem like light-years away, Camp Friendship encourages parents to consider these important questions before making any decisions.
First of all, it’s important to note that it’s not only your child that needs to be ready for sleepaway camp – as parents, you need to feel ready too! Your family’s readiness for sleepaway camp depends heavily on your parenting style, your child’s age and temperament as well as their comfort level at sleeping away from home with friends or relatives. If your child has already mentioned the idea of sleepaway camp or has friends that attend sleepaway camps, this is a good sign that they might be ready.
From a young age, children seek ways to develop their autonomy, and overnight camp is an environment that supports this natural development in a completely organic way.
Set (the scene…)
With over 7000 overnight camps to choose from, it’s important to pick the camp that fits your child’s hopes and expectations for their first overnight camp experience. Top tip: Involve your child in the decision making process! Studies on homesickness have found that children handle separation best when they feel in control. Giving your child the opportunity to help pick out a camp will boost confidence, ease anxiety and reduce homesickness. As a family, decide whether you are looking for a one week experience or for something longer. Find out from your camper whether they are hoping to try a wide variety of new activities, or specialize in an activity such as gymnastics or horseback riding. To find the camp that’s right for you, ask fellow parents or check out campparents.org – a resource provided by the American Camp Association.
Contact the camp to take a tour, or take a virtual tour online. With the season of camp fairs upon us, many parents will visit local malls and schools to meet camp directors and find out more about their summer options. Camp Friendship offers shorter Spring Break or weekend camp experiences to give first-time campers a taste of the overnight camp experience. Family Camp is another sure-fire way to get the whole family on board, and day camps are always a popular first step.
Even if you decide that 2018 is not the summer for your family, rest assured that parents all over the country are unified in their opinions on the benefits of summer camp. Many parents comment specifically on their children’s increased independence and confidence when speaking with teachers and other adults, as well as improvements in their cooperation with siblings and classmates. One parent shared that instead of investing in private school they opt to send their children to Camp Friendship. They haven’t regretted a single summer!
Unfortunately, sometimes as a parent you will only get a definitive answer on readiness when you arrive to pick your camper up from camp. If you find them crying to stay for longer, chances are your family made the right choice!