Summer Camp is a great learning experience for kids. It offers physical activity, the chance to make new friends and gain a little independence away from parents and guardians. There are a variety of camps to choose from, and the age range starts as young as four years old. But even though the camp accepts kids that young, when is the right time to make the big decision to register them? Below we’ll take a look at some of the signs to look for, why camp is awesome, and quell some of those fears of sending your child away to summer camp.
Are They Ready?
Most camps have a minimum age of 6 (some younger), for registering for summer away camp, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they should be going that young. The only real way to find out if your child is ready for summer camp is to try it out and see if they settle in, however there are a few signs that may direct you toward making the right decision for your family:
- Do they easily make friends on the playground & enjoy being with groups of other kids?
- Are they interested in camp themes like nature, swimming horseback riding, sports or theatre?
- Do they have a good handle on basic hygiene & self-care?
If you’re still not sure if they’re ready for a summer away, maybe start out small. If your child hasn’t been away from you very much, start by exploring day or even half day camp options in your area. There are plenty of smaller, amazing camps that offer art, music or science oriented programs. If they adapt easily and love the experience, then you have a better gauge for what to do the next year.
Are You Ready?
In most cases, it’s not necessarily the child that isn’t ready, but rather the parents. It’s tough wrapping your head around the idea of sending your child off to camp for a longer length of time. Just make sure your fears aren’t holding your child back from having an amazing summer! To get yourself more comfortable with the decision, make sure you are completely happy with the camp you’re sending your child to. Ask as many questions as you need to feel at ease. Here are a few simple questions to ask the camp before registering that may help:
- What is the counsellor-to-camper ratio?
- What is the plan if they want to come home?
- Who is there to help them with all those little things that parents usually do?
Decide whether it is the child or the parent that’s not ready. Are you comfortable while they’re showing the signs that they’re ready to enjoy overnight camp or vice-versa? Whatever the answer is, make sure your child feels they are a part of the decision and that they have a say as to whether they even want to go or not.
Positives of Camp
If you really want your child to experience summer camp life, but anxiety is trying to make the decision for you, remember all the positives about the summer camp experience. Your child will make new friends (possibly friends they will have for life), gain a new sense of increased independence, and even get a little more prepared for the coming school year. Not to mention the abundance of healthy activities like hiking, swimming and outdoor games. In fact, it is reported that the younger the camper, the more positive their attitude towards physical activity is.
It is completely normal to have reservations and fears about a child’s first time at camp. Will they be homesick? Will they be comfortable? Will they fit in or want to come home? The individual camp can work with you to have a plan in place to make both you and the camper feel comfortable. This includes strategies to combat homesickness and what happens when a child wants to go home. The counsellors and camp management are there to make sure everyone has a great time. But, in the end, remember: Whatever decision you as a family make will be the right one for right now.
If you still have questions about camp and the types of summer camps available, please reach out to us and we’ll help send you in the right direction!