If you’ve booked a camp for your child, or you’re thinking of booking one, you might be wondering how to ensure they get the maximum fun and learning from their experience. Here are our top tips for advance planning, to help you get the most from camp:
It’s worth considering booking a camp in conjunction with another parent so that your child has a friend at camp. Or if your child has an older sibling you can look even closer to home. However confident a child is, it never does any harm to have a familiar face in the room. And for children new to camp, or those who are anxious about the upcoming experience, it can be comforting to have the security of a friend. Plus, sharing the experience with a friend means there will be lots of memories to discuss afterwards!
For smaller kids in particular, being away from home can feel a little unsettling at first. It can help if you pack a small toy or book from home to give them that ‘security blanket’, although chances are they’ll be having so much fun that they won’t need it after that first day at camp.
Some camps will provide lunch and snacks but, even if food is provided, it can help to pack a few favourite snacks for your child. Kids often appreciate these treats when they’re taking a break from fun, enriching activities. Healthy snacks are best but always avoid nut-based products as most camps will have nut-free policies to avoid endangering kids with severe nut allergies.
Keep calm and stay positive
Kids will pick up on any anxieties you might have so it really helps to be positive when discussing the upcoming camp. Try to avoid telling them how much you’ll miss them - this is likely to make them feel negatively about the camp. It’s far better to tell them how jealous you are of all the fun they’re going to be have! If you have any concerns it can be reassuring to discuss these privately with the camp facilitators in advance.
Make a date
Ask your child if they’ve made any friends at camp. Consider organizing a playdate with a new friend or friends – this can strengthen this friendship bond and make going to camp even more exciting each day.
Knowledge is golden
As a general rule, the more background information a camp’s teachers have about your child, the better they can enhance their experience. For example, does your child have any particular interests or hobbies, or is there anything they really like or don’t like? This knowledge can help the camp facilitator make your child’s experience as personal as possible, and ensure they get the most from camp.
After your child’s first day at camp, it can be useful to ask if they had a favourite teacher. Connections like this can make your child feel more comfortable at camp and it’s very useful for the camp facilitators to know information like this so that they can foster these links. For example, the favoured teacher could meet your child as they arrive at camp, to start their day with a boost, and/or check in with them during the day.
Even if you’ve booked bus transportation for your child, it’s advisable to drop them at camp on the first morning to help ensure their start at camp goes smoothly. But don’t prolong the goodbye process or come back to check on your child. This only increases a child’s anxiety or doubt. It’s far better to give your child a quick kiss goodbye and tell them how much fun they’re going to have.
Sharing is caring
Thanks to modern technology, reputable camps should send you a daily video showing your child doing some of the activities they enjoyed that day. This can be a really useful tool for understanding exactly what they’ve done, and it can help you can feel engaged with their experience. We recommend discussing the video with your child - it can prompt some great discussions on what they did and what they enjoyed most. But watch out, as you might wish that you were a kid and could join them at camp!