Preparing Kids for Overnight Camps

Sending children off to their first overnight camp can give both parents and children a case of the jitters. But with a little preparation, residential camp can be the thrill of a child’s lifetime.

Going away to overnight camp is a big step for any youngster. Perhaps for the first time in their life they’ll be spending an extended period of time away from their home and family, and that can be a scary experience. But you can help prepare your child for overnight camp by letting your child get a first hand look at the camp they’ll be attending, suggests outdoor recreation specialist, Keith Publicover. “If possible, visit the camp, walk around, test out the bunks, look into the dining hall, see what the docks are like and talk to the staff. The kids will get a first hand idea and a taste of what it will be like to go to camp.”

Another way of easing the jitters is by involving your child in camp preparation says Publicover. “Start with reading over the brochure, discussing the experience in terms of what it means to the child and to the parent. And you might want to go out shopping for clothes or articles that they’ll need for going to camp, so that they’re really involved right from the beginning.”

If your child is still a little nervous, try to find a friend or an acquaintance that has experienced residential camp, and have your child talk with about their camp experience with them. Publicover says “this helps them get a clear visual picture of what they’re about to get involved in.”

Richard Pass, a past manager of outdoor education with the YMCA agrees that preparation can make the camp experience that much more enjoyable for kids. “The best way to prepare kids before you go to camp is to talk with them about what to expect from the experience; if it’s a one or two week program, will they sleep in tents, teepees or cabins.” Pass says it’s also important to discuss with your child “how to deal with the other children, what to do if they’re not feeling well and who to contact in this case, so that children know what they’ll be dealing with and they don’t get off the bus looking around and wondering what they’re in for.”


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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