Summer camps are a parent’s savior. For the working parent, they are worth every penny and for the stay-at-home parent, it’s the same. If you’ve been pondering sending your child away to sleep-away camp this summer, but have some reservations about what to expect, feel comfort in knowing that there are many things to do to get prepared for such an exciting experience. Most children are afraid to try something new, especially when they are without their parents. This is why it is so important to not only be prepared before the trip, but during the camp-out as well. Here are some sure tips to help your child enjoy a few nights away from home and help put your fears for your child behind you.

Try a Day Camp First

The best way to prepare for a camping trip is to actually try it out. There are many camps for kids that are day camps. These camps are no different than sleep away camps except for the fact that you go home at the end of the day. The activities are the same and the experience is nothing less than a good time. If your child can experience being away from you in a fun and positive environment, he will want to go back.

Encourage a Night Away From Home or Suggest Hosting a Sleep Over

This is another great way for your child to wonder into independence. Having a sleepover at your house is a great way for your child to see that it is fun to do these new kinds of things. They will also see how other children have dared to venture off into a night without mom or dad. If they see others can do this, they feel less intimidated to try so themselves. A night away at a friend’s house is an even better way to encourage their independence. This step is a huge milestone as it shows the confidence a child has gained without being with you.

Explore and Research

Since there are so many wonderful camps to choose from, research is key to be able to pick the experience that’s right for your child. Activities range from sports, art, theater, dance, animal encounters, etc. So whether you want to learn something new, or be challenged by something old, there’s always a camp to choose. This also builds a child’s excitement, as they will anticipate the events and not have too many fears about the unknown.

Go with a Friend

Memories, memories, and more memories. To make this experience even more enjoyable, have your child go with a friend or sibling. It’s okay to let them go alone, but for a first time camper, this might be the way to get your child to push the envelope. Children feel safe when they are surrounded by things that seem familiar. Friends and family are as close to familiar as you can get. Not only is comfort there, but moments are being made in a comfortable setting!

Tackling Anxiety

Kids will feel anxious about going away. This is a very normal feeling. Try to be understanding when your child tells you their fears. Their fears may seems silly to you, but they are very real to them. Here are some comforting tips to help your child feel less anxiety when being away from home.

  1. Have them take their favorite stuffed animal, special blanket, or pillow. This is something familiar to them that they use on a daily basis.
  2. Have them bring their headphones and music. Music is a great way to escape your emotions or release them. This might help them before bed or if they are feeling homesick.
  3. Have them write in a journal. Let your child know how excited you are to read about their experience at camp. You can read it together when your child gets home.
  4. Have them bring a fidgit toy. For those whose children become anxious in new situations, a fidgit toy might be your answer. These toys are a wonderful distraction for someone who is feeling a little out of place.
  5. Let them know that the phone lines are always open. Giving your child reassurance that you are only a phone call away is the most comforting of all. However, be careful with this one as your child might try to use this to come home. This suggestion might not be for everyone.

Going to sleep away camp is a big deal for most children. Some feel comfortable at a young age and some wait until they are older to experience it. Either way, it is an experience to be enjoyed and make fond memories from. Once your child takes that first big step and enjoys the adventure, be prepared to empty your pocketbook every summer. Things just got really expensive!