Getting your kids ready for summer camp
For kids, summertime means fun in the sun, time off from school, and the chance to spend some time away from Mom and Dad at camp. This sense of freedom is necessary for older kids, and it can help them learn a little responsibility once they realize they have to do some things on their own. However, it also means they might be exposed to the temptations of drugs and alcohol as well as potential hazards, such as water accidents, poisonous plants, snakes, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. It’s important, then, to prepare your child for all of these things and more before they leave for camp.
Talk to your child about the dangers of peer pressure and what experimentation can lead to. Be open and encourage him to be honest with you about his thoughts and feelings. Trusting your child can be difficult when it comes to making good choices away from home for the first time, but it’s a step in the right direction to start a conversation.
“Kids learn about being part of a community and to cope with temporary separation. They’re not only a good transitional step for kids but also for parents, who often need to learn these same separation skills,” says Peg Smith of the American Camp Association .
Here are a few of the best tips on how to prepare your child for summer camp.
Do some research
Depending on what state you live in, the camp your child attends may come with snakes, poison ivy, mosquitoes, and other natural hazards. While any good camp will have precautions put in place to keep the kids safe, it’s a good idea to make sure your child knows what to avoid and what to do in case of an emergency. Spending any amount of time outdoors is bound to lead to bug bites, and since mosquitoes can carry disease, talk to your child about the importance of wearing bug spray or a bug-repellant bracelet, how to spot a dangerous snake, and what sort of plants to avoid.
It’s also recommended that you go over basic outdoor safety rules with your child. This means staying with a friend or group when hiking or partaking in any activity that moves them away from the main camp area, using life jackets at all times in the water, and knowing the signs of heat exhaustion. Make sure the staff will allow your child to drink plenty of water when spending any time outdoors.
Talk to the staff—or better yet, arrange for a tour—before the first day of camp and find out what their practices are. How do they handle homesickness? What happens in the event of an injury or emergency? Also, take a look at how many counselors there are and ask about their training. Find out whether your child will be allowed to call home if he needs to and whether you can send care packages.
Talk about temptations
There may be some older kids at camp who have access to cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol and, despite strict rules at most camps about these items, may smuggle them in. Talk to your child about the best ways to avoid peer pressure, how to say no when offered a substance, and what the consequences could be if they partake. Not only is it illegal, but it could get them kicked out of camp if they’re caught, not to mention the punishment that will be waiting for them when they get home.
Think about the best ways for your child to grow
The right summer camp will give your child the tools he needs to grow and learn, so sit down with him before school ends and talk about what he’s interested in . There are many different types of summer camps out there, with some that focus on art, science, or sports, so it’s important to narrow down the field of focus if your child wants to engage in one of those specifically. Care.com offers a list of inexpensive or free summer camp options.
Preparing your child for a fun, safe summer doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Talk about the best ways for him to spend his time and make sure he knows that the entire point is to have fun and learn new things. Give him the tools to have a wonderful summer vacation.
Photo via Pixabay by Snufkin
Contributed by Alex Robbins
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