Growing up in South Africa, sleepover camps weren’t nearly as popular as they are in North America. (Or maybe it was just me who didn’t care to know much about them.) I hated the idea of not having a washroom in my cabin and having to make my way to one with only a flashlight to guide me. And I didn’t want to sit around campfires listening to ghost stories that I feared would keep me awake at night.
It’s almost time for the kids to leave for day- or sleep-away camp. For some kids, it’s easy (especially for the ones who’ve spent time at camp before). They’re looking forward to seeing old friends, practicing sports, arts and crafts, exploring interests they’ve put aside during the school year, and discovering new talents. For other kids, especially the ones for whom this whole camp thing is new, the time can be nearly as stressful as it is promising: What can they expect? Will they make friends? Will it be scary? If it’s a sleep-away camp, will they be homesick? What if they don’t like it? Now is the time to address these potential issues and put them to rest as much as possible. Here are some tips to consider.
A mistake parents can make when choosing a camp is confusing their child’s needs with their own needs. If you want your child to be happy at camp, focus on who they are, rather than on whom you were as a camper. Your goal is to create a harmonious relationship between each of your children and the camp experience, not for your child to follow in your well-worn hiking boots.
Camp staff just about everywhere and adults raised with the camping experience will tell you summer camp isn’t only about recreation. More than anything, they say camp teaches individuals about life and how to live it well. It’s a unique place to learn.
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