Once you have registered for camp, you will be given a packet of information. It may include a packing list, general rules, and a list of forms campers need to bring (physical from the doctor, etc.) Here are 8 additional things to remember to help you prepare to send your child to overnight summer camp:
- Talking to your kids – You may want to prepare your children for what they can expect at camp. For example, do they know where they will be sleeping? Are the showers in another building? Address the potential for homesickness. They should understand what the rules are and that they are expected to follow them.
- Go to the Doctor – The camp may require that you show proof of certain shots or that your child had a physical. Make the appointment as soon as possible. There will be lots of kids in the neighborhood that need to do the same thing.
- Read the packing list twice – Many camps will include a list of what NOT to pack. If they only allow prescription medications, don’t pack over the counter allergy medication unless you talk to the camp first. It will be taken away. There should be a medical facility on site and they probably have something your child can take. You can pack items that aren’t on the list like books, flashlights, extra batteries, laundry bag, or a camera (the do not pack list may include cell phones). If you are concerned about them making friends, pack something that they can share like hair ties or nail polish. A t-shirt from their school can be used a conversation starter as well. Don’t pack anything that you would be disappointed not get back. Things will get lost or destroyed.
- Label Anything it will stick to – Put a label with your child’s name on everything. Items will be exchanged and tossed with other kids’ stuff. The only hope you have of getting back most of what you sent is if it has a label.
- Care Packages and Letters – The packet of information from the camp should explain their policies for sending care packages. Make sure you and anyone else that may send one know what they are so it doesn’t get returned. You may have limited communication with your child so writing letters to each other will be important. Keep it light. You don’t want them to worry if something is going on at home. Tell them that you miss them but remember you want them to have a great time and not feel homesick.
- Your kids are all right – Many camps update their website or Facebook page with pictures throughout the summer. Your child will not be in all of them. You will know if there is a problem or if they aren’t having a good time. Chances are they were playing somewhere else when the picture was taken.
- Is this the same kid I dropped off? – Camp can change a kid. Be prepared to pick up a child who was shy at the beginning of the summer and is outgoing now. Maybe they were afraid of heights but they can’t stop talking about how much they loved the zip line. Camp programs and activities encourage campers to try new things and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments. Be ready to celebrate them again!
- Summer Forever! – Hopefully your child had the time of their life and maybe even met their soulmate. They are going to miss it. You can remind them that summer friends don’t have to be only when school is out. It’s easy to stay in touch and they can make plans for a reunion.