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How to prepare your child for sleepaway camp

With summer now in full swing, many kids are gearing up for sleepaway camp. Whether it’s their first time away or an eagerly anticipated return trip there is usually plenty to do to prepare for this summer adventure. It’s natural for both kids and parents to feel anxious about the impending separation. But there is nothing like feeling prepared to relieve a case of pre-camp jitters. And these tips for preparing your child for sleepaway camp can help you get there.

How to Prepare Your Child for Sleepaway Camp

1. Talk It Up

Even experienced young campers and their parents can experience some anxiety at the thought of overnights away from home. Allow your child to talk through any fears they have. But avoid making negative or anxious statements of your own about the upcoming separation. Absorbing your worries will only increase your child’s concerns.

Instead, prepare your child for a good time by talking about the fun they are going to have at camp. Spend time looking at the brochure together or talking about anticipated activities and let your child know you’re excited for them to have these new experiences.

2. Practice Being Away From Home

If this is your child’s first time away from home or nights spent away from home are rare, consider a few practice sleepovers before camp. Spending the night with grandparents or trusted friends a couple of times can help your child experience time away from you in a safe and familiar environment.

3. Pack!

Obviously packing is a huge part of the preparation for camp. Many camps provide a checklist for campers to help you get ready, but in case yours doesn’t check out this list. And don’t forget to pack your Bug Bite Thing to keep bites or stings from ruining your child’s time at camp.

At sleepaway camp, your child will be responsible for their own clothes, toiletries and anything else they pack. So it’s important they participate in the packing process. It will familiarize them with what they’re bringing and help them become invested in getting ready for the trip.

Most sleepaway camps end the summer with an overflowing lost and found box. To keep the majority of your kids’ stuff out of it, label everything you send to camp.

4. Plan Fun Ways to Stay in Touch

Sending letters and care packages to your child at sleepaway camp is a fun way to keep in touch while they’re away. 

If your child is away at camp for a week or less, send a letter or care package a day or so before they leave so it arrives early in the week. Keep letters positive and encouraging. Avoid bad news. But also avoid telling them how much fun they are missing out on at home.

Review the website or brochure for your child’s sleepaway camp when planning ways to stay in touch. Some camps allow phone calls or emails instead of letters. Others have a website where they post daily photos and updates. Things have probably changed since you were a kid at camp when it comes to staying in touch. Make sure you’re in the loop.

5. Say a Cheerful Goodbye! 

Dropping your child off at camp can be an emotional experience for both of you. A lengthy and tearful goodbye can leave your camper feeling sad and guilty when they should be excited about their upcoming adventure.

So, as best you can slap on a smile. Tell your child how excited you are for them. And say a cheerful goodbye knowing you’ve done everything you can to prepare your child for sleepaway camp. You can cry in the car on the drive home.


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