Taking your kids to summer camp – Do’s and Don’ts

We dropped off our 15 and 10 year old this morning at the church where a bus would drive them six hours to camp.

I’ve been worried for the last couple of weeks how my son (the ten year old) would hold up being two weeks away from us. Well, mostly me.

I tried all week not to really think about him leaving because then I would think about how he might get lonely or miss home while he was away.

A friend of mine from work said her sister took her 13 tear old to a two month long camp last summer. Half way through the camp there was a parents day. My friends sister said she cried most of the visit after seeing her son. Suffice to say that parents day was pretty much ruined for both of them.

Now I’m not an expert but this being our third camp drop off I wanted to give the newbie moms out there some camp drop off advice in order to make it a fun and memorable time for kid and parents alike.

The DONT’S. . .

Don’t rule #1 – don’t let em’ see you sweat, or cry.

I’m sure a lot of parents think its healthy or even think that it shows they care when they cry goodbye in front of their children but I’m pretty sure Billy Bob first timer is thinking “she must be crying because she knows what a terrible time I’m going to have and she feels bad for me.” Save it for the ride home.

Don’t rule #2 – leave Mr. Bear out of it.

Ok, I am guilty of this one. I wanted my son to take something from home. Something that would comfort him in case he got homesick or started missing us. I filled his older sister in on my idea that maybe her brother should bring Mr. Bear. She about died laughing. Some advice, leave the mementos at home moms.

Don’t rule # 3 – don’t cave

A friend planned and paid for camp six months in advance and her daughter was excited about it at the time. As camp got closer her daughter realized she’d be away from her school friends and wanted badly to get out of going to camp now. Don’t be afraid to say no. There will probably arrive several good reason why your son or daughter decide camp isn’t for them (nerves, friends, etc). Assure them that there will be time for school friends when they return and that being nervous is normal but that with a little hep they will work through this time and be the better for it. Remind them about camps past and that once he or she gets there and gets involved in all the activities they wont remember why they were nervous to begin with.

I’m sure you’ve got some dont’s of your own. Here were just a few to get you started on the right track. The rest will come to you along the way. Let’s move on to the DO’s.

Do rule #1 – do your homework

Make sure you have taken time to check out the camp first. If it’s a local camp stop by. Read reviews about your camp and ask around to your friends. Most likely the people in your neighborhood have heard of or use the camp you’re thinking about. When you feel better about the camp they will.

Do rule #2 – make a statement.

Instead of an emotional good bye as if it’s the last time you’ll ever see Jenny Lou, opt for a card or note tucked secretly into their suitcase or duffel. I write both my kids notes telling them how much fun I know they are going to have and that I can’t wait to hear all about it when I see then next week. They really love getting these secret surprises.

Do rule #3 – sleep over anyone?

Don’t let camp be the first time your son or daughter has had the opportunity to sleep away somewhere. Make sure you’ve given them the opportunity to test drive this whole “sleep away” thing with a grandparent or a family friend. This helps to minimize the shock of it all.

Do rule #4 – old news

Talk about camp as often as they want to bring it up. Show them pictures, videos (when available), and the camp site where they can see what to expect at camp.

Do rule #5 – extra! extra! read all about it!

Stationary is a must. Kids feel connected to home when they can sit down and tell you the story of camp. They reminisce about the day and weeks of fun and remind themselves what a great summer they are having. It also puts your nerves at ease. I look expectantly for post cards from the kids. I love it!

Using camp to unhook from the computer, television, internet, and phone are great ways to expand your child’s interests and allow he or she to become interesting themselves.

Camp helps to build self esteem, friendships, and independence. It’s been a life long tradition for millions of kids who love to do it year after year. Sit down with your kids and find a camp together. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a few shots of Vincent on his frist day of camp @ the Antiocian Village in PA.



I’m feeling great about our decision to send Vincent to his first year of camp. Look at that smile. Isn’t it great!


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