It’s relatively easy to figure out what to pack for camp, but sending your child off to summer camp comes with a bundle of complexities. Mary Jo Rapini, author of Start Talking, shares some terrific tips for parent’s of campers:
Most camps are meant for kids, not for their parents. However, if you are a first timer sending your child away to a summer camp, you will note a heightened sense of anxiety. How do you know if your child will be okay? Are you sure this camp will address their individual needs? What if there is an emergency? All sorts of possible crises run through your mind. There are always things that can happen, but most of them can also happen almost every day of your child’s life –with or without camp. Your heightened sense of anxiety may, however, affect you and turn you into a model parent for what NOT to do when your child is at camp.
1. Let go and let your child learn new experiences with trained counselors. Your child has an opportunity to return from camp feeling accomplished and more self-assured. You can help facilitate this by reassuring your child before they leave for camp and reminding them of other times they felt unsure or insecure and did wonderfully. Also, reassure them you will be there if they need you. Parents who cannot let go and allow the camp counselors to teach their children new skills and offer them opportunities stifle their child’s emotional growth.
2. Communicate with them as appropriate. Camps have rules about ways and how much to communicate with the camper. Parents who follow these rules and make sure their child has the appropriate communication are sending their child the message that they trust them and have confidence in them. Parents who try to over communicate, or indulge their child with gifts throughout the week, send their child the message that they are not like the other kids and need more attention. This prevents the child from bonding with the other campers and learning to self soothe when they feel stress or homesick. Camp counselors are instructed on healthy ways to de-stress children. Allow your children the opportunity to learn these and more healthy tips.
3. Having your child away at camp can also be a relationship retreat for you and your spouse. Take advantage of being a couple again and enjoying late dinners or evenings spent out. When your child comes home full of new experiences to talk about, you will both be eager to listen. Your relationship will be stronger and closer. Don’t spend the camp week or month feeling anxious and alone without your child. A camp is an opportunity for both the child and the parents to grow.