Summer camp is an important experience for a child of any age. It exposes him to a diverse range of activities that expands his worldview and develops his social skills. Whether or not your young child is excited for this new experience, it’s still a big adjustment. Here are some tips to help get your child ready for summer camp.
Be realistic about the experience
If your child is nervous about summer camp, you may be tempted to make it sound like the most fantastic experience she will ever have. It’s understandable to want to allay your child’s fears, but it might also give her unrealistic expectations that can be hard for her to process. Overwhelming positivity can also feel like she’s wrong to be nervous or scared.
Instead, have discussions about what she can expect at camp. Talk about the activities she’s going to do, and what she will learn. For example, if your child is going to a summer camp where she will be exploring nature, you can discuss the local animals and plants she might come across. If she’ll be learning about music, you can play some music and dance together at home.
If she’s anxious about something, acknowledge her feelings and offer suggestions for how she could handle things. Remind her that she can talk to an adult at summer camp if she’s feeling upset or confused at any time, and that it’s normal to feel a bit scared before doing something new.
Ensure your child has the necessary clothing or equipment
Summer is a great time for outdoor exploration, and that means proper clothing and protection. Talk to the summer camp and make sure you’re providing your child with everything he needs to stay comfortable and protected at camp. This might include: proper summer attire, sunscreen, bug spray, and accessories like sunglasses and hats to help give shade from the sun. It might be a good idea to include some rain gear too, to be on the safe side.
Make sure you are aware of any other sorts of clothing or equipment your child may need to bring for certain summer camp activities, such as sneakers or a bathing suit.
Practice social skills
We’ve discussed previously how conversation helps develop social skills, and the weeks before summer camp affords an ideal opportunity to continue this education. Your child may be meeting many new people during summer camp, and can find it scary if she’s unprepared. Now is a great time to help your child learn how to make friends – practice things like saying please and thank you, sharing toys, giving others a chance to talk, and how to cope if she’s feeling upset or scared. You can even practice these social situations at home before she leaves for summer camp, so she can draw on her experiences when the time comes.
For young children, summer camp is a great opportunity to learn more about their world. They may be anxious, excited, or somewhere in between, and the weeks before the big day is the perfect opportunity to help your child prepare for the summer camp experience.