First time camp parents often ask a lot of great questions and sometimes have a few spooky thoughts about their child’s well being during their inaugural summer. Their children may be 7-8-9 years old and still need mom and dad for nearly everything. Yes, it might feel like there is a lot to worry about when you send your little human off to camp. Naturally, this is the first time you are separating in this kind of way for an extended period of time.
Here are some of the most common questions and concerns we receive from our clients. No, there’s nothing we haven’t heard or camps haven’t handled! Here are 7 (not so) spooky camp myths de-bunked!
My child is a picky eater. He/she won’t eat anything at camp and will starve!
o Your child will eat. He/she will not starve! Really! Camps provide so many options at each meal, from a salad bar to bagels and plain pasta. Even the pickiest of eaters learn to fend for themselves and learn how to manage their mealtime needs on their own. There are cook outs, taco nights, pizza parties and lots of farm fresh fruit and veggies. There’s something for everyone and you can speak to the camp director before camp to share any allergies or real concerns.
We’re sending our child to camp alone, not knowing a soul. What if they don’t make any friends?
o Before camp: Many camps assign a big brother or sister before (or sometimes) during camp, and camps are often open to connecting you with a buddy or two in the age group or in your town or one nearby. There are pre-camp events for first year campers. Also, older parents are always eager to welcome new people into the camp family. Kids never get off the bus, plane or car lonely and there’s always a warm familiar adult or teenager waiting on the other side with a smile.
Once camp starts: Learning to make new friends in new environments is challenging no matter how old we are. It’s hard, scary and even exhausting! But guess what? Your kid will do what many adults are afraid to do. They let go of inhibitions and open up to new friendships, to let new people in. Kids also learn how to manage individual friendships within a group dynamic. One day at camp is pretty much equivalent to a week in the real world. Friendships bloom is much different ways, and there are counselors and adults there to make sure everyone is adjusting, acclimating, and connecting. They are also there to provide support, reassurance, and feedback when campers need assistance.
My child won’t sleep – they wake up so early or can’t go to sleep at night!
o Here’s the truth: Your child may run into your room at an ungodly hour on Sunday mornings. Here’s the other truth: s/he will learn how to occupy herself/himself so s/he doesn’t have to. The beauty is that by occupy, we don’t mean plop down in front of the TV. We mean draw, write, read, listen to music, dream. Your camper, at this moment, has within him or her the ability to embrace tech-free down time, and that’s a truly beautiful thing.
I need to be close to where my child is going to camp, in case something happens.
o Many parents initially like the concept of sending their child to a sleepaway camp that is in close driving distance. It is a very normal and common thought and concern but let’s unpack that for a second. Your overnight camp director, their leadership team, and their health center will deal with any emergencies within the first few minutes of them occurring. There are protocols, procedures, and plans of action for these moments. Camp directors will call parents, but it’s the camp who is doing the heavy lifting if ‘disaster’ strikes. They’re experienced and you trust them, or you wouldn’t be sending your kids to their camp for a summer. This trust and understanding is why so many are comfortable choosing a sleepaway camp that is the best fit even if it is a plane ride away.
My child doesn’t know how to shower alone!
o We promise, all kids will learn how to shower alone. The whole bunk does it and the campers have their shower caddies with the soap, shampoo and conditioner all right there for them. Guess what?! They figure it out on day one with a little help from their counselor or bunk mom. They stay clean all summer long.
My child won’t wash… his/her hair, teeth, sheets, won’t cut nails, put on sunscreen, know how to get dressed!!
o Yes s/he will! And anything they can’t do, the camp moms or camp counselors can do or teach! These adults are also there to make sure these daily or weekly hygiene tasks are done and done well. Kids are like sponges and learn fast and they’ll learn from each other. This is the good kind of peer pressure and peer learning. They’ll surprise you when they get home and can braid hair, make their beds perfectly and entertain themselves on a rainy day! Don’t worry – the dreaded stories of full bottles of shampoo, sunscreen, and toothpaste returning home are mostly myths.
My child won’t speak up for themselves if they need something.
o Kids at camp learn to advocate for themselves and how to meaningfully communicate with adults in ways they just don’t have to at home or in school. Why? Because you (appropriately) are there to help advocate. At camp, your kids are interacting with adults other than you in important and healthy ways. So let’s say that picky eater really isn’t into what’s for dinner s/he had to tell someone when s/he is hungry even or if that not so great sleeper didn’t get enough hours the night before s/he lets the counselor know s/he needs extra rest (really sleeping during rest hour or maybe a lower energy choice period). Your child learns to speak up in the dining hall, on the courts, and even in the health center.
We love getting these questions. It’s why we are here as well as to remind you again: there’s just nothing like the gift of camp. Camp helps give your children independence, resilience, and confidence. And with those gifts, kids have the opportunity to become the best, happiest, truest version of themselves. They get better at camp! (And you didn’t think it was possible!)
Not only do we help you find the perfect camp for your family, we stick with you before, during and after the summer as well! Reach out any time with any questions! xoxo