TIPS FOR PARENTS OF FIRST TIME CAMPERS
How do you know if your child is ready for camp? How should you prepare for your time apart? What if your child gets homesick?
If you’re a nervous first-time camp parent, that’s okay! It’s only natural. To help put your worries at ease, we’ve interviewed a parent, Hallie, to learn how she got ready to send her oldest son to camp for the first time.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO? WHAT ARE YOU MOST NERVOUS ABOUT?
I am most excited for Jack to have the summer of his life — to do what he loves all day every day, to enjoy some independence from his parents and his brothers, and to live the camp life.
Of course, I am still nervous. Nervous about him being homesick, making friends with people that he really wants to be friends with, and being away from home for so long. But, my excitement definitely outweighs my nerves. And so does my jealousy!
HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE CAMP YOU CHOSE? WHAT WERE THE IMPORTANT FACTORS OF YOUR CHOICE?
Choosing the right camp for our son, Jack, was a very easy decision. My brother went to the camp for 14 years as a camper, counselor and group head, and it had a huge impact on shaping who he is today. But, we wanted to make sure that this wasn’t the only factor. Unlike many people, we wanted our kids to go to a camp where they wouldn’t know anyone from back home. My brother and I had that experience and we both feel strongly that it helped shape our time at camp.
The Directors were also an important factor in our choice. We wanted to feel comfortable with the directors of the camp, know that we could trust them, agree with their approach, etc.
I equate finding the right camp to finding the right college. Does it look like our son will be happy here? Does he look like he could be friends with these kids? Of course, you can get that feeling at more than one camp — but there is something about that gut feeling.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU LEARNED IN THE CAMP PREPARING/SEARCHING PROCESS?
There are a million camps out there and there is a right camp for everyone. It is not a decision to take lightly, but I think you need to follow your gut. know your kid, know yourself, and have trust in the system!
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU MUST HAVE? WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU DON’T NEED?
We have started the camp-buying preparation and we are having a blast! I do think I have it a little easier being a mom of all boys — I don’t think they want/need quite as much! Some of our “must haves” are comfy bedding, items from his favorite sports teams (i.e. pillow, blanket etc), and clearly some camp pride!
I think it’s easy to get wrapped up with all the different options out there to represent your camp, your city, your teams. In the end, I am adopting the philosophy that less is more. I’m also guessing that most of it will come home looking a little different than how it went!
WHAT IS AN IMPORTANT CONVERSATION YOU WANT TO HAVE WITH YOUR CHILD BEFORE HE/SHE LEAVES?
A few conversations:
1) HAVE FUN. Try not to think about us too much at home. Don’t stress about winning a tournament or losing one – just play and have fun.
2) BE YOURSELF! People will love you for who you are. It may not be the first person you meet, it may not be the person in the bed next to you, but you will find and make friends – even if it takes a few days!
3) IT’S OKAY TO BE HOMESICK! As my best friends (my camp friends) can attest, I LIVED for camp and loved every second of it. But even on my oldest summer as a camper, I cried on visiting day and I cried when I spoke to my parents. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t having the time of my life – I was, even if I missed them on occasion!
4) TRY NEW THINGS! You may think you don’t love basketball – play it, have fun, you don’t need to be the best! Try water sports that you have never tried. Try different foods. Give it all a shot!