Nancy Diamond: I'm Nancy Diamond with KidsCamps.
com, and we're speaking about how to select a summer camp for your child. Now, we'll talk about how to prepare your child for the camp experience. Many camps have really answered that question for you. They provide you with the list what to bring, and what not to bring, and many of the camps' websites are actually have a link to a camp outfitters company, where you can purchase items online.
You have to go on the assumption that whatever you pack for your child will not come home, given that, just to make sure, you're not packing anything of incredible value, either monetarily, or emotionally, you'll want to leave your child's favorite stuffed animal, or favorite blanket at home. You'll also want to make sure, that whether the child is going to day camp or overnight camp, you label everything that the child has, with the child's name. And I mean, everything, from toothbrush to sneakers, clothes, sunscreen bottle, anything that they have, you should label. It's a good idea to involve your child in the process of selecting a camp from beginning to end. Have the child become excited about the camp through their website. They can familiar with the layout of the camp, many of the camps websites now have maps, and they have pictures of the bunks and dining room halls. And you also can be speaking positively about camp, and not say things like, Oh! I'm going to miss you so much and Oh! I can't believe it's only three more days before you go. Children take the cue from the parents, if you are positive and excited about the camp experience, they will be too. If at all possible, you should visit the camp. This way your child will know the Camp Director. Perhaps some of the support staff, or even the counselors themselves. You'll also want to encourage your child's independence throughout the year. If they've never had a sleepover date before, and they're going to a sleepaway camp, you really should schedule a few sleepover dates, to make sure that the child is able to separate from you. Continue to write letters all summer, even if you do not hear from your child. Don't take it as the sign that, they don't love you. Perhaps, they are very busy, or in the case of one story I heard, the child put little stickers as stamps because she didn't realize that you're supposed to use actual stamps and not her little hot stickers. So, most of the camps do have a policy where they do require the children to write each week. Now with emails, some of the camps do have email capability. Don't take it personally, if you don't get any mail, it means they are having a wonderful, wonderful time, and you should continue regularly to always write, so that they know that you're there thinking of them.
A good tip is to practice letter writing with your child, before they go to camp. Many children have never had the experience of writing a letter, knowing where to put the stamp, knowing how to do the return address, and even though the camp counselors are helpful with it, sometimes there could be an oversight. So, you want the child to become familiar with how to write a letter.
When sending your children letters or packages, be careful not to write anything that can be anxiety producing or show the anxiety you may be feeling with your child away. Saying things like, I miss you so much, the dog misses you, I don't know what I'm doing without you, these things will not help your child while they're at camp.
It's important that, not only your child is prepared for camp, but that you as a parent, are prepared for camp, and that you are a good camp parent. You really want to know the rules and regulations, that the camp has set forward including rules regarding packages. You want to make sure, you know whether or not food is accepted. Don't try to hide something in an envelope, or inside of a stuffed animal, the camps have told me, of so many different stories of parents trying to hide food. I mean, that is not really setting a good example and it's telling children that they can break the rules.