Preparing for Sleepaway Camp

Tips on preparing your child for sleepaway camp.


Outward Bound

Part of your child's success at camp will depend on the preparations made before she ever leaves home. Whether it's working through pre-departure jitters or knowing what to pack, following a few simple guidelines will ensure that your youngster starts her experience on the right foot.

Some common concerns for kids going to camp, according to Connie Coutellier, director of professional development for the American Camping Association in Martinsville, IN, are fitting in socially, coping away from the support of Mom and Dad, and feeling pressure to succeed at new activities.

"Camp is a very intense experience because it's 24 hours a day away from home," she says. "That's exciting, but it's different from going to school and coming home. It's making new friends and having a new daily routine."

Coutellier recommends that you discuss the upcoming experience by fielding your kid's concerns and highlighting their strengths. "Review some of the things they did well this past year, and explain how at camp they'll have an opportunity to build on these skills and develop new ones," she says. You might also talk about problems they had -- and suggest how they can better deal with similar situations at camp.

And listen to your child describe relationships at school. "Both difficulties and successes there could carry over to camp," says Coutellier. "If a child is being bullied at school or feeling insecure, you could talk to him about the opportunity to make new friends or how she could be a good friend to another child."

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