In any new parent’s life, having a child who goes to sleep away camp can be as difficult as sending them off to their first day of preschool. It may be hard for some parents to let go of their little one on their first sleep-away camp adventure. But you have to keep some things in mind. If you think it might be hard for you, chances are it’s even harder for them. So dry your tears, and get your bearings together. Today, we are going to go over some of the best tips and tricks to help prepare you and your little one for their first sleep-away camp experience.
Let Your Child Pick The Camp
With many things in life, parents tend to make decisions without including their kids. If you want your child to have the best sleepaway camp experience ever, then you are going to need to include them in the decision making process. Whether it’s a list of brochures or a state magazine full of all the camps available, be sure to have your little one by your side as you look through it. With your guidance, have your child flip through the resources and come up with a list of sleep away camps that week he or she would be interested.
One way to help determine which camp is the best sleep away camp for your child is by steering them towards their interests. If your child is a budding musician or enjoys being a part of the band at his school, then the music-centered sleep away camp might be the best fit. When your child is at a sleep away camp that is suited to his or her interests, their anxiety for being away from you will drop a bit because they will know that there is a sense of comfort and familiarity around them.
Loosen Up The Reins A Bit
If you are anything like me, then being a helicopter parent is something you have to work hard at to avoid being. When your child goes off to sleep away camp for the first time, it’s pretty tempting to want to be a helicopter parent. We can understand the urge to want to call them around the clock and make sure that they are okay. While you think that this approach might be helpful to them, it’s quite the opposite.
Staying connected around the clock to your child can have some negative consequences. Your child will learn to depend on you way too much and will not be able to stand on his or her own two feet. Any new experiences they may encounter (that they know might be challenging or difficult for them) will be difficult to overcome because they know they can depend on you to be there to talk them through it.
While this can be helpful, there are times where they will need to learn to do things on their own. Sleepaway camp is the perfect time for them to experience doing things on their own. So let them take that risk, and let them learn.
It is best for your child to gain some independence at his or her sleep away camp. The best way to do this is by letting them make their own mistakes and learning from them. Disconnect from them a bit and try and avoid texting and calling more than once or twice a day. It’s perfectly fine to call in the morning and then again in the evening to wish them good night. But for the sake of their sanity and well-being, avoid calling and texting around the clock.
Send Them With A Buddy
One of the best ways to ease the anxiety associated with sleep-away camp is by sending them off to camp with a buddy or sibling. When your child has a familiar face with them when they are at sleep-away camp, they are less likely to be overwhelmed by homesickness.
Many schools offer sleep away camps that revolve around academics or recreational activities such as band or soccer. If your child shows an interest in any of these school oriented activities, this is great. Find time to talk to parents in the school to see if they have children who would be interested in joining a sleep-away camp.
Another great way is by talking to some of your mom friends and seeing if they want to send their child to sleep away camp with yours. Sending your child off to sleep away camp with a friend from school not only helps your child learn a little independence. But it helps them establish important social relationships that they may carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.
Parents, if you have more than one child, then it may be in your best interest to send your siblings away together to sleep away camp. Siblings can offer extreme levels of comfort to each other when they are away from parents for an extended period of time. The feeling of being homesick is a little ways away when your child is at a sleep away camp with a sibling.
If your child is going to sleep away camp, then your number one mindset is to probably to send them off with everything they need. One of the major rules of sending your child away to sleep away camp is that “little is more.” Instead of packing a suitcase or two full of clothes, consider ditching them for a durable duffel bag like the L.L. Bean Adventure duffel bag instead.
Not only are you likely to over pack for your child when you send them with luggage. But your child will probably not use half of the things you pack them. Mothers of boys, expect your child to wear the same clothes more than once or ditch them all together while they are at sleep-away camp.
Not only should you not pack because they are likely not to use everything you pack them, but it’s not practical. In many sleep-away camps, space is limited. Instead of having a child lug around clothes that they will not use, save yourself the hassle. Your kids will thank you for this because that’s much less clothing and personal things that they have to keep track of and carry around with them.
Take Lots Of Pictures
Sleepaway camp is a special and memorable moment. While your child might be embarrassed about taking a couple of photos or two (or 200), be sure to snap them anyways. Not only is it a monumental moment in their lives, but they will thank you later.
If your kids are up for it, send them with a disposable camera or a waterproof camera such as a GoPro. Sending them to sleep away camp with their camera will allow them to record their adventures. While they may be a bit reluctant to take photos or use their camera at first, encourage them to take lots of snaps and videos of all the fun they are going to have. Chances are if they don’t, they are going to regret it later (and trust that you will too).
Have Your Own Fun
Your kids are going to be having tons of fun on their own. While they are away at sleepaway camp, use this opportunity to have some fun of your own as well. While it may be hard the first couple of days to get used to having the kids out of the house, just remember this. All those times that you wished you had a moment or two to yourself, well that moment has finally arrived. Go out on a romantic date night or finally take that nap that you have been waiting for. Whatever you choose to do with this free time, know that this time is limited and you should take advantage of it while you can.
Sleepaway camp does not have to be a scary experience for either you or your child. In the grand scheme of things, many kids don’t have the opportunity to attend a sleep away camp. Take a moment and remind your child how valuable of an opportunity this is and how much they should take advantage of it.
Most importantly, know that your child will gain a lot of independence by getting a break from you. (As tough as that sounds, we know). Having children develop independence on their own is one of the major keys for them to be successful in the future. At the end of the day rest easy knowing that your child is making memories that will last a lifetime while they are away at sleepaway camp.