For many kids across the country, summer break means attending camp, either for a few weeks or perhaps the whole summer. As camp season approaches, you may find that your child already has their bags packed and waiting at the front door. Your child is still negotiating with you the terms of what they think their summer plans should look like.
Whether it is a day camp, or an overnight camp, finding the right camp for your child and one they will actually enjoy, can seem like a daunting task to undertake. With a little planning and preparation, you can follow these key steps to ensure a successful summer camp experience for your child.
1. Involve your child in the process.
Children are more likely to comply and become excited about a camp when they think they are actually going to have fun and enjoy it. Look at camp brochures together and have your child, pick their top 3 choices.
2. Take a look at your child’s interests
A full month of math camp! What better way to get your child to brush up on their math skills to help launch them into the next school year! Though you maybe extremely excited at this potential, most likely your child is screaming “NO!” So, when you are deciding about what camp to register for, take into account your child’s talents and passions. Summer should be about fun and relaxation. When these two things are in place, learning will continue.
3. Ask your child where their friends are going
Friends play an important social influence for your child and are a critical factor to guarantee that they will have a positive experience.
4. Explore and learn what choices are available in your community
Consider attending Camp Fairs or Open Houses in your area with your child or talk with other families who have attended a particular camp.
5. Determine if the camp can meet your child’s individual needs
As a parent you have the right to investigate and request the applicable services that the camp offers to meet the individual needs of your child. This includes asking about sufficient training and qualifications of the counselors, and what types of supports are available. You can request to set up an in-person meeting or at least a call ahead of time after you have registered to discuss and understand how an individual’s needs can be met through the camp’s available resources.
6. Familiarize your child to the camp setting
If your child is hesitant to attend camp you may want to research the camp’s website or set your child up for success by visiting and touring the camp prior to their first day.
7. Mentally prepare your child for the experience
Take them shopping for some new camp clothes, a new lunch bag and some of their favourite snacks. If your child enjoys crafts, you can always make a cool bracelet with your child that they can wear to camp. The bracelet can have beads with letters on it that reads a positive message. This bracelet can be a positive affirmation and symbol of their bravery.
8. Talk with your child about their concerns or worries
Even with preparation, the transition to camp can still cause some distress for your child. Set time aside to talk with your child about their concerns and any “What if” questions they might have. Help them brainstorm how they can cope and who they can seek for help.
9. Let them know you’re thinking about them
Whether your child is away at camp for an extended period of time or simply attending day a camp, consider writing your child letters or notes and placing them in their lunch bag. This simple task sends a big message about how much you love and are thinking about them.
10. Document their camp experience
Create a journal or scrap book of their experiences to help your child reflect on how much fun they are having (or have had) at camp.
Do you remember your childhood summers? Summer should be a time to create a memorable experience that will last you a lifetime. So, after you have done all the planning and registering for your child to ensure they have a successful summer camp experience, take a moment to do your happy dance, then start planning your summer fun!
Read more from Janet Arnold in How to Explain a Diagnosis to a Child
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