Children Nervous about Summer Camp ?- don’t worry
Parents if your child is nervous about going to summer camp- this is normal. The important thing is to remain the parents, be in charge and stick to your decision of sending your child to camp. This is a perfect example of one of the strengths they will gain from going to camp. It may be their first time away from home, or indeed from you- but it is time for your child to experience independence.
Top tips to help your children nervous about summer camp.
1) Prepare them. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. You must be open and honest about it, make sure there is a clear calendar so they know how long is left until camp starts. Talk about it lots. If your child is nervous and you think it’s best to not mention camp until a couple of days before it, you are setting yourself up for a battle and breakdown.
2) Build the excitement. You need to live camp with them. Watch the videos, read over the camp material, try on clothes, shop for necessities. Talk about all the wonderful and amazing fun things they are going to be able to do. It’s down to you to build up the excitement of camp- so that they understand why they are going.
3) Do not offer a rescue plan. The number one reassurance for a nervous child is “If you don’t like it, call us and we will come and collect you right away”. That first night laying in their bunk in the silence, or the first time another camper is nasty to them, or the first time a counselor shouts at them- this is exactly the action they will take. What if you gave the same rescue plan for school- would they have even lasted a week? Doing this also disempowers the directors and camp staff. They can work through nearly everything- but giving the child the option to go home will only make them defenceless against your words.
4) For a children nervous about summer camp, get them a go to person in camp other than their counselor. Maybe the director or someone else who you know within the camp faculty. Introducing your child to them and telling them that this is the person they go to if they need extra help or are really worried about something. This will just add a bit of comfort and extra support to children nervous about summer camp and having you not there.
5) During the lead up to summer camp you can do some practises. Let them sleep over at a friend’s or relative or even outside in a tent in the garden. Anything to give them a bit of detachment from the parental figure- so they know they can still be ok away from you.
6) Be strong for them. Tough love. Tell them you don’t want any sad letters- that you only want to hear the good things about camp. Even if you’re going out of town, you need to make them believe you are easily contactable and that the letters will reach you. If you are going out of town, tell them that- the more they know that they MUST stay at camp and try their very best to have fun, the more they will accept the idea.
7) Do not be kid sick. Separation anxiety goes both ways. Are you going to call the camp every day? Send letters and parcels every day? Act normal. Do not promise big presents or surprises or holidays after camp. Camp is the present! Build it up! For children nervous about summer camp it makes it extra hard for parents also- but you are the parent, the adult- act like it.