Every summer, millions of children attend summer camps throughout the United States. If your child has never been to camp, you may be wondering how to begin the process of deciding if your child is ready for camp. We have put together some of the questions and answers that may be helpful as you embark on the journey of choosing the summer camp experience that is best for your child.
Why is camp so important?
Although each camp is different, when talking with campers, parents, and camp staff, there are common themes that continually come up when talking about the benefits of summer camp. Summer camp is a special type of community where kids come together to have fun. Within the camp setting, children develop a sense of independence as they try new adventures away from home. Summer camps are known for providing a safe environment where children gain self-confidence as they learn new skills. Camp is also a place where children develop a variety of social skills (e.g., communication, conflict resolution ability). For more information about the benefits of camp for kids, check out the results of a landmark research study on the positive outcomes experienced by kids at summer camps across the United States.
What types of camps are available?
There are many different types of camps (e.g., single sex, co-ed, residential, day, all-around, specialty) that have distinct missions. Understanding your goals for the camp experience will help you narrow down the type of camp that is best for your child.
How do I know when my child is ready for camp?
There is no specific age that is ideal for starting camp. Making the decision about whether or not your child is ready for camp depends on the type of camp you are considering. In addition, your child’s unique development should be a strong indicator of when your child is ready to go to camp. It is a good idea to contact the camp directors at camps you are considering to get their perspectives on the types of milestones that your child should achieve before she attends a particular camp.
My little girl is very shy, will she make friends at camp?
All different types of children thrive in a camp setting. If your child is shy, camp may help her develop skills so she is more comfortable in her social environment. Camp directors should be sensitive to your child’s unique personality. As you are deciding on a particular camp for your daughter, be sure to ask the camp director what steps he or she would recommend to help your daughter transition into the camp environment.
What if my child has food allergies?
Many children have food allergies or other medical conditions. These issues should not prevent your child from experiencing summer camp. It is important to note that camps vary considerably in their ability to deal with different types of medial issues. Be sure to consult the camp directors or camp medical staff about your child’s particular medical needs before you decide on a summer camp.
What if my child gets homesick?
If your child attends sleepaway camp, it is normal that she experiences some homesickness. It is important to talk with camp directors about the approach they take for dealing with homesickness at camp. For example, at Point O’Pines we think it is important to talk with campers about strategies to deal with homesickness before they come to camp. We have found that this approach helps campers to better recognize their feelings and work through their homesickness with the support of caring staff members. We have also found that parents appreciate it when we provide suggestions for how they can support their children as they work through feelings of homesickness.