Summer camp can provide opportunities for growth and new experiences for children. With the school year coming to a close, it’s time to consider how you can expand your child’s possibilities to continue their learning. Camps offer fun and engaging learning environments which can spark new ideas and interests. Whether your child is attending a day camp for the first time or they’re a seasoned camper, here are a few steps that you can take to make sure the summer is even more exciting, beneficial, and most importantly, fun for your child.
1. Create Positive, Realistic Expectations for Summer Camp
Before you and your family choose a summer program, take time to review the offerings together to give your child a clear idea of what to expect. Try to help them set realistic goals for what they’d like to take away from the camp.
For example, if your child is only going to chess camp for one week, they will definitely see some improvement in their skill level. However, to see a large increase in their abilities, they may need a few weeks of that summer camp so they can hone their skills and practice for an extended period of time. Help them set positive, realistic expectations and they will be much more likely to enjoy the outcome.
2. Encourage Your Child to Explore New Interests
Summer camp is a great opportunity for children to explore established or new interests, like sports, the arts, or critical skill building activities such as chess or technological pursuits. Camp is also a great place to try out new skills in a low stakes environment; in other words, they can take risks and make mistakes without having to worry about receiving a poor grade. An open, supportive environment like summer camp can encourage risk-taking and experimentation, which in turn builds resilience and confidence for children of all ages.
3. Practice Makes Perfect!
If your children are headed off to day camp, take time to practice what time they’ll need to get up and go in the morning so that they have time to acclimate to their summer schedule. Review what they’ll need to bring with them each day, and ensure they know where to store their summer camp belongings at the beginning and end of each day.
If they’re attending an overnight camp, encourage them to have a few “practice” sleepovers with family or friends to get used to the experience of sleeping away from home. Summer camp is a kind of practice in itself—children who get used to diving into a change of pace each summer are often better prepared for both the academic and social rigors of college.
4. Give Them Safety Skills to Thrive at Summer Camp
Whether your child is attending a day camp or overnight camp, be sure to go over age appropriate safety and self-care techniques. Encourage hydration, especially if your child is attending a sports program, and always send them off with plenty of sunscreen for outdoor activities. If your child has traditionally been a picky eater, talk with them about the importance of getting enough to eat every day to keep their energy up as they work through busy days at camp. A personal first aid kit can be a nice touch for anxious kids who want to be prepared for anything, but any reputable camp will also be well prepared to deal with any minor bumps and scrapes that may arise after a vigorous rock climb or soccer match!
5. Make a Communication Plan
If your child is attending day camp, build in time each day to allow them to share what they did and learned, as well as any fears or concerns. Campers headed to overnight camp should go equipped with a way to share their experiences, too. You can even send them with stationery and stamps so that they can stay in touch and keep you updated on their adventures the old-fashioned way. For parents, sending your love in the mail, or in small notes stored in their day camp items, can be a great way to offer encouragement and a little reminder of home. Make sure that your child knows your number and any emergency numbers, and keep the phone number of the camp and camp staff posted at home and work so that you can always reach out to your child if something urgent arises.
With a little preparation, summer camp will be even more of an unforgettable experience for your child. Take time to ensure your child is ready and they will be a ready for an educational summer full of fun and new experiences.
For more information about the summer day camp programs hosted on Whitby School’s beautiful backcountry campus, please explore our enrichment offerings with your kids today!