Why Your Child Can Go to Camp for the 1st Time
Parents, especially those of first-time campers, often tell me that their child is looking forward to attending camp, but that they’re comfortable doing so only if they go with a friend. At first blush, this seems like a good idea—what better way than to enjoy a fantastic new camp experience than to do so with a good buddy? However, often what that child might really be saying is that they’re not sure of what to expect from their camp experience, and, like a security blanket, the friend will offer them comfort and security. Indeed, you can certainly try to find a friend that fits the bill; it won’t necessarily be a magic solution though; if the child isn’t “ready” otherwise (which is a separate and important calculation…see this link for more on that…), they might not get the most of the independence and growth that usually comes with an empowering camp experience, and instead stifle each other.
So…you can let your child know that you can ask around and see what you can do…and try to find a friend who shares their interest in that particular camp. Alternatively, you can share with your child the many reasons going to camp without a friend can be fantastic. It takes only one successful camp experience for your child to attend camp alone to empower them for a lifetime of confidence in their ability to try things independently.
Here are some specific things you can do to reassure your otherwise ready for camp child that they can do it on their own:
- Tell your child they’re great and will make new friends.
- Point out specific character strengths that will make others like them and want to be their friend. Maybe they’re especially kind or funny or smart. Look objectively at your child and help them assess their strengths (which will also help build their confidence).
- Identify specific interests that they can explore at camp.
- Tell them how nice the counselors are and how they’re trained to take care of them and help them make new friends.
- Have the camp director come to your home and ask them the question about attending without a friend. Camp directors generally have good answers to offer, such as who acts like the “camp mom.”