Although parents begin seeking summer camps for their children clear back in January, they never know how they are going to feel when the time comes to send the kids packing. Not only is there an overwhelming sensation of separation and homesickness for the kids, but the separation and feelings of loss by the parents can be just as traumatic – if not worse!
In order to help get the whole family through the ‘breaking up is hard to do’ experience, Daddy Nickell, Parenting Expert and father of seven children wants to share a few tips he has learned along the way to help children (and himself!) to deal with the issues. His tips will allow you to successfully send your kiddos off to summer camp to make new friends while creating a wonderful, new experience and creating memories. He even has some survival skill suggestions for the kid that will help them ward off a bad case of homesickness and will encourage growth and development.
Below are Daddy Nickell’s tips for a successful summer camp for kids and parents alike:
Start small. There are so many different summer camps available. Some are simply day camps, some are overnight camps; there are weeklong camps, month long camps and camps that your child will spend their entire summer at. I suggest starting small with a local day camp. My children have participated in sports-themed summer day camps, education themed summer day camps, etc. The options are endless, so do some research and start there. Once your child has spent some time at a day camp they might be ready for an overnight camp then a week long camp and so on. Build up and allow your child to be comfortable with the idea of camp before being shipped off for the summer.
Research together. Spend time with your child on the computer (or in person if you’re allowed) exploring the summer camp. What kinds of activities will be available? Where will they sleep? What food will be available to eat? This will allow you to spend some quality one-on-one time with your child while they share with you the things they’re excited about and the things they’re nervous about. It will also help you feel more confident and secure knowing what your child will be experiencing while away from home.
First day. Spend a little extra time helping your child pack for summer camp. Pick out a few items that will remind your child of home. For instance, a framed family photo, blanket, or any other comforting item that reminds them of home sweet home! If possible, help your child unpack their belongings and feel comfortable in their new bunk space, but be careful not to overstay your welcome – you’ll be walking a fine line. When your child starts looking and feeling more comfortable, say a heart-felt goodbye and reassure them that you’re only a phone call away.
You care. Care packages are always a huge hit – especially if they are unexpected! Depending on the length of your child’s stay at camp a care package may or may not be appropriate. A care package will let your camper know that you’re thinking about them along with providing them with a little piece of home. Some must-have items to include: homemade cookies, their favorite snack, crackers, or candy. If there’s a snack bar at camp your child can access in between meals or a supply center where your child can buy nick-knacks then cash will be greatly appreciated, too. Regardless of what you send in the care package, your child will no doubt be excited to get mail while at camp.
Separation is Hard. Stay Cool: One of the hardest things about heading off to summer camp is often the separation anxiety. This can be especially difficult for first-time campers. Many children are used to being with their mom or dad all day long, and going to camp will change that completely. I suggest giving your child something special to take with them; something they can keep in their pocket that reminds them of you. That way, when they feel sad, they can pull out their special item and think of you.
Now that you know, both you and your children can be prepared for their summer camp adventure. If done correctly, the experience will be great for all parties involved.
If you would like more parenting tips from Daddy Nickell, please go to his blog page at http://blog.daddyncompany.com/. Check out Daddy & Co.’s ‘I’m the Daddy’ gift and apparel line at http://www.daddyncompany.com/ and on YouTube. You can also ‘Like’ Daddy Nickell on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and subscribe to the MLAAD YouTube channel.