Properly preparing your child (and you) for a CAMP experience
In the weeks before camp
The camp is chosen and your child registered. But how to prepare for the stay?
If this is your child’s first experience, it is normal for him and you to be a bit nervous.
Be reassured. Certified camps must comply with some 60 standards covering safety, the environment, health, food, supervision and programming. Your child will be in good hands! If you still have concerns, do not hesitate to contact the camp or take advantage of open house days. They provide a golden opportunity for you and your child to meet counsellors and camp management, become familiar with the premises and ask all the questions that come to mind.
Your attitude is important. Do not let your nervousness show; it may make your child apprehensive. Instead, present the camp as an exciting adventure. Reassure your child rather than feed his fear.
If your child has never slept away from home, it might be a good idea to send him to stay overnight at the home of a friend, a cousin or a grandparent. Your child will learn to sleep away in complete confidence.
In the days prior to the stay
The departure date is fast approaching and excitement is growing!
- Pack your child’s luggage with him. This will give him a sense of responsibility in addition to letting him know what has been packed. Identify each of his personal belongings.
-Each camp has its own requirements regarding things to bring. Click here for a list of MUSTS.
-If you intend to send letters to your child while he is at camp, send one in advance. Your child will receive it a few days after his arrival.
-Do not forget to complete all documents requested by the camp (health sheet, for example). This is necessary in order for staff to best respond to the needs of your child. If your child takes medication, ensure that he has enough for the entire stay at camp.
-Paint the camp in a positive light for your child. Ask him what activities interest him in particular, answer questions and reassure him if necessary. If you have gone to camp, now is the time to tell him about your experience! However, be careful not to create false expectations. One or two anecdotes should suffice to make him eager to experience camp, yet let him discover camp life for himself.
-If your child seems reluctant to leave for several days, avoid promising to pick him up if he does not like camp. Your child may choose to test your promise and leave at the slightest problem without even trying to solve it. It is preferable to encourage your child to remain for the entire stay and then decide whether he would like to return next year. Your child will integrate into camp better if he doesn’t decide to leave before he has arrived. Both of you will be proud when he overcomes his fears by staying until the end. However, if it is deemed in the best interest of your child to return home, the camp will make necessary arrangements with you.
-If your child is afraid he will miss you, establish an “I am thinking of you” moment. You and your child can think of each other while brushing your teeth or eating breakfast, for example.
-Give the luggage a quick going over to make sure nothing has been forgotten.
-Ensure that your child has eaten enough before leaving.
-Leave with a light heart: your child is going to experience something extraordinary and you will benefit from a short break!
-Do not stay too long at camp or at the departure point towards camp. Say good-bye to your child and let him choose his bed in the dormitory or his seat on the bus. This is the first step towards proper integration at camp! Be confident. Staff and management at camp will do everything to make your child’s experience a wonderful one.