Summer camp is a safe, supportive, and positive place for children and youth to build their self-esteem, confidence, and skills all while having fun in an intimidation-free environment. Getting to that point, though, can be a challenge for even the most seasoned summer camp parents.
To make the experience enjoyable for the whole family, here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing your child for camp:
1. Pack accordingly. Whether it’s playing tag in a field or exploring Kananaskis, most camps have an outdoor component, so campers need to be ready for all of the elements. In Alberta, it is not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day. Be sure to pack gloves, a rain jacket, and a sun hat for your camper!
Other items that will help keep your child more comfortable while at camp is limiting the usage of cotton clothing. Sometimes cotton is not a great material for outdoor elements. Cotton holds on to moisture and keeps it close to the skin to cool the body. Other fabrics like merino wool or other synthetic fibres work best at wicking the moisture away from the body to allow the body to stay warm. It is not necessary to avoid cotton all together when packing, (as it is summer after all), but having a few items like socks and base layers, like long underwear, is a good idea. Check with the camp; they might have a packing list to help answer any questions!
2. Leave it at home! A camp is a place where kids will get dirty, so it is best to leave anything new or valuable safely at home. Most camps have rules about campers leaving electronic devices like cell phones, gaming devices, music players, etc., at home. Camps encourage campers to make new friends and try new things through teamwork, healthy outdoor activities, and spend time away from technology.
3. Don’t forget the details. Camp staff are there to support each camper, but it is important they know the facts. Some general advice for parents is to disclose all medical information to the camp during the registration process, and during the camper drop-off day. This is extremely important if a child has any medical conditions or any serious allergies that require treatment. This information will also help ensure your child has a great experience while away from home.
4. Yes, they will miss you, too! Camp provides many different outdoor activities from canoeing to archery, swimming, and time with arts and crafts. Children and youth attending camp will be sure to keep busy. In the event of some downtime, some campers do become homesick. Packing a familiar stuffed animal or book to remind them of home is a great idea!
Always check with the camp staff to ensure you are on the same page when it comes to packing, safety, and rules. Above all, keep in mind that summer camp should be a fun and relaxing experience for the whole family.
Erin is a local guide, Wilderness First-Aid and Outdoor Council of Canada Instructor, and the coordinator for Camp Adventure, located on 64 acres in the heart of Kananaskis country, and provides camping and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and their families.
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