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Getting Kids Ready for Camp

The end of school is fast approaching and most parents have already faced the question:  what will keep the kids busy all through summer? If you booked your kids into day or overnight camps, now is the time to make sure you have what you need and are prepared. Yes, with the end of school can come a fast switch into summer plans, so be aware of the dates you booked back in March, grab your supply lists and get ready. Registration may have been many weeks ago and you don’t want to miss the first day of camp.

One thing I do before every summer and before every back to school season is check my supply of labels. I buy labels with my kids’ names on them and have them in plenty of shapes and sizes. They go into clothing, on food storage containers, backpacks, sunglasses, Frisbees, sunscreen and shoes. You name it. They resist sun, water and the power of your dishwasher. But if you want to order them online, the time to do it is now so they arrive in time to label your children’s items before they head to camp. Many label companies have deals on right now just for campers, so jump online and investigate your options. Or if you want to make your own, check out your local Used site for label makers which are very easy to use.

What should your child take with them to camp? Check the website of the camp your child will attend or the registration information that was provided to you. If neither of these are available, contact the camp organizers and ask directly. Every camp will have their own list of things you need to provide; yes, even day camps, and it is expected that your child show up the first day prepared. Don’t let your child be the only one without a beach towel or the only one who didn’t know to bring rubber boots. Let their camp experience be about fun and connection, not feeling badly about being left out of an activity.

Talk to your kids about their camp experience. Remind them why you chose the camp you did, find out if anyone else they know is attending. Talk about what they can expect, what will happen and who they can rely on for support. If your children seem anxious or you know they are slow to warm up to strangers, practice situations they might encounter to help them feel more prepared. Spending a week or two chatting casually about meeting new kids, how to introduce themselves, how to ask for help, how to ask to be included all can help smooth what lies ahead for your kids.

  • Send notes in your child’s bag each day or a few notes to last them through the time they are at camp
  • Give them photos of the family and their close friends to have with them
  • Make fun plans for when they get home so they have something to look forward to
  • If they are staying a week or longer, give them supplies to write home
  • Send fun snacks, things to share with other campers, anything that’s allowed that can break the ice
  • Tell them how often you’ll talk and be there for them when they need you
  • But give them lots of freedom – they may want to immerse themselves
  • Remember camp will be an adjustment for you too, so watch your own reactions and emotions

Remember that camps are a fabulous experience for kids. They will make memories that may last well into their adult years. They may make friendships that last that long too. But it takes a little preparation, a little encouragement and little kindness to send them on their way successfully.

Will your kids attend camp this year? Have they in the past? What are your suggestions to make the transition go smoothly for them?

Writer, editor, recovering chocoholic. Most often found writing, drinking coffee, and chasing kids. Find her on Twitter @littlemissmocha.

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