I didn’t get the opportunity to go to an overnight camp until I was about 15 years old. It was one of the best, most memorable experiences I have had in my life and I always wished I could have gone to one earlier in my childhood. Maybe you also went to camp – or wanted to – and are looking forward to offering your child this same kind of experience. But how can you determine if overnight summer camp is right for your child? And, how can you prepare?
I recently sat down with the Assistant Director of Camp Chief Ouray (CCO), Matt “Sully” Sullivan, to get his feedback on whether my son would be ready for his first camp later this summer and how I can prepare for a positive experience for him AND for myself. Here is what he had to say.
Are there any personality types that should NOT go to an overnight camp?
In short, no. Sully says that overnight summer camp can be for every personality type. Not only that, but at CCO, they actually specifically hire counselors of all personality types to help all campers feel welcome. In this type of diverse-activities camp, I think this is fabulous. That way, campers can chose an activity that appeals to them (this particular camp option has many to choose from), and they will likely have camp counselors they can relate to and therefore help make them feel more comfortable.
Taking this concept one step farther, I also discovered that there are tons of overnight camp options that actually appeal to many personality types: outdoorsy camp, sports camp, music camp, acting camp, artsy camp… the list goes on!
What steps are taken to make sure my child is protected at overnight camp?
Every single camp counselor and staff member at CCO undergoes stringent background checks (checked against the Central Registry for Crimes Against Children and the Colorado FBI) and is chosen through a detailed application and interview process. Protocols are in place to make sure campers are in the safest possible situation and never alone with only one staff member. Also, counselors have extensive training for any possible bullying situation.
Here are some questions to ask for any overnight camps you are considering: are criminal backgrounds checked on all your employees? Is each person checked through the National Sex offender registry? What steps are you taking to decrease the risk of bullying at camp? Are you accredited by the ACA?
Always trust your gut and if you’re having doubts about a particular camp, don’t do it.
Tip: Another great resources for child safety is ParentingSafeChildren.com
How can I prepare my child for overnight camp?
Here are Sully’s tips for preparing your child for overnight camp:
- Spend several months building up the excitement
- Talk about it a lot and encourage your child to share his or her feelings about spending time at an overnight camp without you
- Give your child plenty of opportunities to sleep in a variety of places through sleepovers, staying in hotel beds, camping – anything to help them become comfortable in different environments.
- Have an open mind
How can I prepare myself for sending my child to overnight camp?
I am pretty sure my child is ready for sleep away camp, but I may not be. Sully recommended, in order to prepare mentally, that I plan something special with the hubs, as well use as all of the tips listed above that I will be doing to prep my child.
Overnight camp can be a wonderful experience for children. Not only will gain self-confidence and new skills, they will also take with them a lifetime of memories. I wish I could go back!
What are your favorite overnight camp memories? I’d love to hear them!
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