As a parent, the thought of sending your little one (or not-so-little one) off to camp, whether it be day camp or a week of camp, can get your stomach all in knots. Making a checklist to follow when the process gets overwhelming can help you stay on track and not mired in an emotional spin that could raise your stress level, or even worse give your observant kiddo a sense of uneasiness.
1. Compile a list of all the camps going on in and around you area. Ask your friends, look online, visit your community center, ask the teachers at school, post on Facebook that you are looking to create a list of camps that are available and would love some input.
2. Dwindle down that list based on two things to find your fit; price and length of camp. If this is your child’s first time going to camp, you might be better off looking at one-day or two-day camps. Making a first experience seamless is key. If your child is older and more seasoned, a week or overnight option would be a better fit. Reach out to pricier camps to see if they might offer scholarships. If there are any camps that are well beyond your means and offer no financial support, scratch them before presenting options to your child.
3. Ask your child what kind of camp they would like to go to. This might seem obvious, but sometime when we are in “go mode” or are apprehensive, we try to get a sense of control by calling the shots. This could lead to pushback or the sense you are not honoring your child’s feelings. Discuss the list together. Ask your child for their input, but make it clear you will make the final decision.
4. Register your child. It’s only official once you make it official, and some camps fill up quickly. Register sooner than later to ensure you get a spot and make a folder on your computer or an actual folder where you will keep all of your camp-related information to keep everything in one place for easy access to reference. Make sure any camp requirements are fulfilled well in advance to avoid disappointment and lost fees. Many camps require medical releases or a recent checkup on file. Others require proof of health insurance.
5. Put it on the calendar. Make sure it’s on the family calendar so everyone can see the dates. This will help with conflicting schedules, overscheduling, and it’s a great visual reminder to get your child excited as the camp date approaches.
6. Plan ahead. If your chosen camp is a day camp with a long commute, make sure to schedule outings with other siblings, or camps nearby with similar hours to avoid stress over returning in time for pick up. If you are solo, make the most of the time by knocking chores off your list (oil changes, school supply shopping) or plan girlfriend lunches or spa days near the camp to add a bit of fun to the week. Traffic and car trouble could turn a great experience into a nightmare, if your child is the last one to be picked up.
7. Manage expectations. If this is your child’s first time away for camp, nervousness can creep in. This is normal. Your child is trying something new for the first time and doesn’t know what to expect. Stay positive and share stories of your own camp experiences as a child. Go over details of the camp day schedule and arm your child with as much information as you can to give them a sense of knowing what is in store.
By Meagan Ruffing