If you’re like me, you’re already starting to think about what the summer will bring. As parents, it’s never too early to start planning, crossing the T’s, dotting the I’s, and trying to have some game plan set up to make the days run smoother. Think about it – summer isn’t that far away!
Summer camps are an excellent time for kids because it gives them the chance to meet new people, experience new things, and come out of their shell!
If you’ve never sent your kids to a summer camp or have, but because of the pandemic they haven’t gone to in the last couple of years, I’ll be sharing summer camp tips to help you and your kids get ready for a fantastic experience!
Tips for Choosing a Summer Camp
When it comes to choosing a summer camp, you’ll be surprised at how many different options there are for your kids. It may make your head spin a little. Here are three tips for choosing a summer camp that is right up your kids’ alley:
Tip #1: Decide Your Expectations
When choosing a summer camp, you want to understand the “why” behind deciding on the best camp. What is your hope or goal for your kids? Is it to break out of their routine and experience something completely new? Or maybe to keep the academic juices flowing? Perhaps you’d like your kids to get the experience of meeting new people at a camp that offers various activities at all levels.
Whatever the reason is behind sending your kids to a summer camp, you need to have an understanding of the “why.” This will help you narrow down your search on choosing a summer camp that aligns with your expectations and hope for your kids.
Tip #2: Choose the Best Genre
Once you set your expectations and understand what you hope your kids will do or learn, now it’s time to find the right genre.
There are the traditional summer camps where it’s all about the outdoors and learning how to build campfires, crafts, and so much more. This may be what you think of when it comes to summer camps. However, there are also academic, art, athletics, and special need camps that focus on the expectations you set when you first decided to send your kids to a summer camp.
If your kids love art and want to learn more, finding an art camp will excite them. Kids who are all about sports can build their skills and learn more in-depth about their favorite sport. Academic camps can help keep your kids ready for school, but they teach more than a classroom and can be more hands-on. If your kids have any emotional, mental, or physical challenges, there are special needs camps that create a comfortable environment while letting your kids have the time of their lives. There is a genre for all!
Tip #3: Decide on Overnight, Virtual, or Day Camps
Don’t think that when it comes to choosing a summer camp, there is only the overnight option to get the whole experience. In today’s day and age, you can select the kind of camp experience you’re comfortable with your kids having based on your comfort level and that of your kids.
Virtual camps are a growing trend if you’re uncomfortable having your kids around many people. This is also a great option if your schedule is jam-packed with other activities already. Day camps are good when your kids may not be ready to do an overnight camp or are uncomfortable being away from home. They’ll still be able to socialize with other kids, experience new things but still come home at the end of the day. Overnight camps provide the same experiences, but the most significant difference is the kids sleep at the camp. This can help build their independence while being supervised and is an excellent choice if your kids are ready and you both feel comfortable enough.
Summer Camp Preparation Tips
At first, you and your kids may be excited about the new experiences they’re going to have and friends they’re going to meet, but this can also bring feelings of anxiety and doubt. To help ease the feelings of being overwhelmed, follow these summer camp preparation tips:
Tip #1: Do All the Research
Just like researching the best summer camp for your kids based on the genre, explore all you can regarding the camp. This means reading reviews of the camp, looking through the website, talking with others who also sent their kids to the same camp, and anything else that will help ease anxiety for you and your kids.
While this may not remove all the feelings of being nervous when sending your kids to a summer camp, this can help you feel more secure in where you’re sending your children. Show your kids the videos and pictures of the camp to help them get excited and feel better about it.
Tip #2: Visit the Camp Ahead of Time
Depending on the kind of camp you’re sending your kids to, pick a day to visit and see it in person. This will bring you and your kids peace of mind and get a better idea of the layout. While visiting, bring any questions or concerns with the camp director or counselors. Your kids can get a better picture of the activities and attractions, which can help them feel more excited about their upcoming experience.
If you can’t visit the campsite in person, check out their website and social media pages for this information. You can also email, direct message, or call the camp regarding any questions you may have.
Tip #3: Talk With Your Kids
Getting ready for camp isn’t only about knowing the ins and outs of what to expect but also making sure your kids are mentally prepared. Ask them how they’re feeling, what they hope to gain or learn from the experience, and any questions or concerns they may have.
When having these conversations, remember always to stay positive. Don’t express how they may get homesick or how nervous you may feel as a parent. You want to understand and learn how they think without imposing your feelings onto them. Answer their questions honestly but let them do most of the talking. Remember, they’ll be more nervous than you! If you’ve ever experienced a summer camp, share your experience to help ease their fears. I worked at a summer day camp back in the day and let my kids know the different activities, field trips, games, and more we did with them to give them some idea of what to expect.
Summer Camp Packing Tips
When packing for myself or my kids, I always tend to overpack regardless of where we’re going. However, when it comes to summer camps, you should pack strategically. Look at these summer camp packing tips to help your kids get ready:
Tip #1: Know the Camp
Whether virtual, an overnight, or a day camp, each camp will have a list of what your kids should bring, but knowing the kinds of activities they’ll be doing will help you understand what to pack.
This comes based on the genre. For example, If your kids are going to an academic camp where it’s primarily hands-on learning or doing experiments, you most likely don’t need to pack your kid’s baseball mitt. You should also ask questions like if shower items will be provided or laundry machines on the campsite. Knowing the answers to those questions will help you decide if you need to pack extra clothes, provide shampoo and toiletry items, sleeping bags, food, etc. Knowing the ins and outs of the camp and what’s supplied versus not will help you pack everything your kids need.
Tip #2: Label Everything
I like to think my kids are responsible enough to make sure they don’t lose their things or mix them up with others, but let’s be honest. Kids can get lost in the fun of the moment and forget what they brought or what’s someone else’s.
Write their names on the tags of their clothes and let them know always to check. Label any items for the bathroom, shower, or anything they bring that other campers may have so there’s no mix-up. This can help prevent your kids from getting nervous if they lose something and save you money when they come home because you don’t have to buy anything new!
Tip #3: Use Plastic Containers Instead of Suitcases
I’m sure most of us have plastic containers we use for storage around the house, but it’s an excellent substitute for suitcases!
Instead of sending your kids with nice suitcases that could get ruined or will be hard to wash, use those containers to send with your kids. They’re durable, but the kids or counselors can easily wash them if they get dirty at camp or when they come home. They can hold a lot and may even limit the number of containers they’d need to bring and save space in the cabin.
Summer Camp Safety Tips
Safety is always a priority when it comes to our kids. As parents, we do everything we can to ensure their safety, and camp is no different. While your kids are off at camp, share these summer camp safety tips with them to always remember:
Tip #1: Always Stay Together – Never Run Off
This is, in my opinion, the number one safety tip for kids anywhere, especially camp. Tell your kids to always stay with their group and counselor no matter what. If they see something they want to check out or have to go to the bathroom, let them know to tell their counselor before doing anything.
There’s truth to safety in numbers. Even though this is a great chance to learn independence, it doesn’t apply when they’re in a new environment, and something could happen.
Tip #2: Always Wear Shoes
I don’t know about you, but my youngest would stay barefoot all the time if I let her! Regardless of the genre, keeping your shoes on will prevent injury when it comes to summer camps.
Let your kids know to keep their shoes on, even if they’re going running or swimming in the water. Water shoes are an excellent option to send if they’re against any kind of shoes in the water. You never know what they could step on, what kind of insects are walking around, or if poison ivy is lurking by. This may seem extreme to your kids, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Tip #3: Stay Hydrated
It’s not just the heat that can dehydrate your kids but also the sweat-inducing activities they’ll be doing. If you can, send a water bottle with their name on it to always have and refill when it’s empty.
Let your kids know to take water breaks when they need them or if they’re starting to sweat a decent amount. If they ask why, and they most likely will, inform them it’s to ensure they’re still able to play, participate, and not get heatstroke. It will keep them healthy and ready to go. Camp counselors are pretty on top of this, but let your kids know to tell the counselors when they need a water break to prevent illness or injury.
Closing Thoughts on Summer Camp Tips
Summer camps provide so much more than just a break from their regular routine. Being able to experience new activities, make new friends, learn more about themselves, and gain a sense of independence and self-confidence.
You may not realize it, but a lot more goes into planning for a summer camp than just seeing what’s out there. These tips can help you and your kids fully prepare for the life-changing experience. I know you all do everything you can to ensure your kids are having fun while staying safe, which is why these tips are here to help you feel more secure in where you’re sending them and knowing what to do to get the most out of this experience. It’s not just the kids experiencing something new but also the parents, especially if it’s your first time sending them to one. I hope these summer camp tips help ease any anxiety you may have and help you decide the best one for you and your kids!
Don’t forget, if you have any household chores that need to be taken care of, Call Emmy is always here to help you.
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