Summer camp season is upon us, I can tell from the number of forms I am signing each day!! Many parents ask me when their child is ready for an overnight camp experience? While you and I know that every child is different and some may be "camp ready" sooner than others, here are a few tips to show readiness for "sleep away" camp.
Most children are ready to spend a week or two away from their parents between the ages of 8 - 10. Older children may even want to spend a month or 2 at camp (certainly was the case for one of mine and not the others). But, age is not the only factor involved in deciding camp readiness. A child who has siblings going to camp may even be ready to join their brother or sister when they are as young as 7 years old. They might miss their sibs more than their parents!
For starters, has your child asked about going to camp, or have you asked them how they feel about going "away" to camp? Does your child like to spend the night at a friend's house or spend the night with relatives? Or, are they the type of child who always calls to get picked up because they want to "sleep in their own house". If you can't spend one night away, I would not suggest leaping to 2 weeks of overnight camp.
Has your child gone to a day camp before, made new friends easily and asked to go back for more? Do they like certain types of camps that fit specialized interests, or are they just there to "do everything!". These should be questions to answer when deciding about an overnight camping experience as well.
Research camps with friends and neighbors. Do you want your child to be "far away" in different environment? (both culturally and seasonally). What about accessibility and travel arrangements to and from camp? These decisions might also help you to choose camps either in or out of state. Some children would much prefer an overnight camp where you take them and pick them up rather than arriving at a new camp via bus or plane.
Lastly, remember like so many other parenting decisions, this is a camp for your child. Just because you went to "Camp --------" does not mean that it is necessarily the right camp for your child. Be open- minded and take some time to visit a few camps this summer while they are open. Just like colleges, best time to visit is when they are in session!
That's your daily dose for today. We'll chat again tomorrow.