Determine Whether Your Child is Ready for Sleepaway Camp
How can you tell if your child is ready for camp? There’s no tried-and-true perfect formula, but you definitely want to make sure that your child is ready before you send her/him away; the camp experience is far too valuable to turn your child off because s/he isn’t yet ready; it’s better to err on the side of the caution if you’re not sure.
That said, here are ten questions for you to consider.
While there is no specific magic age for a first-time camp experience, the best age is when the child is “ready,” which can typically be between age 7 and 13. Camp Kupugani is tailored towards kids aged seven to fifteen; we have new campers within all of those ranges who are eager to have a great camp experience. Often, the earlier the first camp experience, the more positive changes that can take place. Social and developmental skills associated with younger campers are sufficiently developed for participation. Younger campers sometime transition easier to camp compared to campers in their early teens.
Has your child had positive overnight experiences away from home?
Does she enjoy visiting Auntie’s or Grandma’s house? Does she like sleepovers at friends’ houses? How did she deal with these previous types of separations? A good progression for determining “readiness” is to start first with sleepovers at relative’s houses, then sleepovers at non-relatives (i.e. school or neighborhood friends). When the child (and parents) are comfortable with that, then it’s time for camp!
What does your child expect to do at camp?
Learning in advance about the camp experience allows a parent to create positive expectations for the child. The more information you and he can get about the program beforehand, the better for a smooth transition from home life to camp life.
How easily does your child make friends with other kids?
Camp is a great tool to facilitate social development. If your child thrives in new circumstances and makes friends easily, she will likely transition easily to camp’s different setting and routines. If she warms up very slowly to new circumstances and people, and prefers the comforts of home and immediately family to social activities, the camp transition may take longer.
Has your child participated in group activities like day camp programs, team sports, or youth organizations?
Camp offers a variety of ways to interact with others, whether in cabin groups, teams, activities or meal times. If your child has had prior experience with social interaction, it can facilitate the transition to camp.
Is your child comfortable telling adults about her needs?
A large part of the development of independence and growth at camp is the perception that a camper can do things on his own. That growth is guided by counselors and other “substitute parents” while at camp. If he’s able to tell adults easily about his needs, that can make for a seamless transition. If he’s a little shy at first, but usually soon finds someone he trusts, that also works well. If he’s often nervous about telling teachers or other adults that he needs help, then you should pay special attention.
What are your child’s eating habits like?
Camp menus are unlike restaurants where you can order specialized meals. The Kupugani menu is designed so that meals at camp not only taste great, but are nutritious too! If a camper is a picky eater at home, she will likely return from camp with a greater perspective and appreciation of a wider variety of foods. If your child has specific dietary needs due to health, religious, or philosophical reasons, you can talk to the camp directors about arranging alternative food so that her meal times can be normalized as much as possible.
How independent and responsible is your child?
Does he normally care for himself and his belongings without much supervision? Although camp counselors guide and facilitate cabin and camp life, children are generally expected to care for themselves and follow camp routines without excessive prompting. That said, as a parent, you need not worry excessively if your child is someone who won’t change clothes or shower without a reminder. Camp is where kids live up to community expectations; there’s a good chance your child will return home with more self-discipline and independence.
Do you think your child would be anxious about being away from home?
While you definitely want to challenge your child to have new experiences and stretch herself, you don’t want to push her to go off to a place she doesn’t yet want to go. As the days counting down to camp take place, there can and should be some attendant nervousness, since that’s a normal part of growth, but abject fear should not be part of the pre-camp experience.
Does your child want to go to camp?
The camp decision should be driven by the child. How did your child become interested in camp? Does she often talk about camp and camp activities? How much do/did you persuade her to go to camp? The more the child can be involved in the decision-making process and reviewing information, the better. Checking out the camp DVD or videos, pictures, or visiting the camp and seeing what the facilities are like—are all beneficial to a first-time camper’s readiness and confidence.
Of course, when your child is ready for overnight camp, there’s no better place to send her/him for a multicultural resident camp experience than Camp Kupugani girls camp or boys camp! Our campers have fun changing their world!