Inspired by a recent article in Parent Magazine, these are 12 tips designed to help parents and their child prepare for the summer at one of Keewaydin’s camps.
1. Follow the Packing List
This is pretty easy. The camp Directors have prepared a comprehensive packing list for your review. Study the list carefully to make sure your child has everything he or she needs.
2. Book Your Doctor Visit ASAP
Medical forms are an important tool for keeping your child healthy at camp. Keewaydin requires a physical within the past 12 months. So if your child needs a physical before camp this summer, make sure to get them in before your local doctor’s office gets booked up.
3. Label, Label, Label
Label EVERYTHING with your child’s name. This is the best and only way to assure your child doesn’t lose their belongings. Keewaydin families often use the clothing label company Stuck on You for iron and stick on labels.
4. Provide a Sneak Peek
Help your child to maximize their camp experience by explaining to them what sort of accommodations they can expect at camp. Keewaydin’s website has photos and maps of each camp that can help your child feel ready and excited for the summer.
5. Do a Test Run
Planning a sleepover at a friend’s can help your child remember they can have fun, thrive and survive without you. If possible, arrange a night when they can camp in the backyard or a day when the family can go for a paddle. This could help them to see the outdoors as fun and exciting rather than scary.
6. Make it Easier to Make Friends
One of the things kids are often worried about is if they’ll make friends at camp. Of course, camp is the perfect place to make new friends, but sending them with tools to break the ice can help too. While staff will facilitate icebreakers and team building games it never hurts for kids to have their own cache of tricks. Cards, travel games, crosswords and magazines are all great ways for friendships to develop organically.
7. Prepare for Homesickness
Most kids feel at least a little bit of homesickness at some point during the summer, and that is normal. Keewaydin staff at each of the camps are trained by the renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson, who teaches them all sorts of tools to help kids overcome their homesickness. Preparing your son or daughter by reminding them that homesickness is a totally normal emotion everyone experiences can be helpful. If you are worried about your child at camp or have a case of “kidsickness” pick up the book Homesick and Happy: How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow by Michael Thompson. Thompson’s book is a vital guide to helping parents with this brief loosening of ties.
8. Stay in Touch the Right Way
Kids LOVE getting letters at camp! But remember letters from home can also bring up small bouts of homesickness. Keep letters light and happy, avoiding descriptions of events they may have missed out on or anything overly emotional.
9. Don’t Panic
Keewaydin will periodically post pictures to the website. If you don’t see your child’s photo posted everyday or in every posting try not to panic. Keewaydin’s camps are busy places in the summer and our staff couldn’t possibly get the perfect shot of every kid each time photos are taken and posted. To see photo’s of your child’s personal camp experience send them with a digital or disposable camera, that way you can relive your child’s fondest memories with them at the end of camp!
10. Don’t Redecorate
While your child is away for the summer they will have a blast, but when it’s time to go home they want to go home. Transitioning from camp to “real life” can be challenging and big surprises can make this transition more challenging.
11. Be Prepared to Be Surprised
A summer at Keewaydin is a life-changing experience. Be prepared for your child to have 100 stories to share and new skills to show you. Many parents also notice their children develop a greater sense of confidence and independence while away at camp.
12. Warning: There May Be “Campsickness”
Leaving the camp community behind can make children feel sad or bored. To help your child with this transition encourage them to connect with camp friends, look through camp photos, and enjoy the things they could not while at camp. Once your child is rested keeping them busy will help fend-off “campsickness”. Ice cream and the summer blockbuster are known to send post-camp blues running.