Start getting things ready NOW. Those items are not going to label themselves! Have your child try putting them on and use it as a time to clean out closets and donate items that no longer fit or haven’t been worn.
Pack together. Involving your child in the packing makes it more likely that they will take responsibility for what they bring (and what they forget!). It also helps to promote their organizational skills, autonomy and ability to unpack and repack on the other end. Make sure to supervise them to ensure that prohibited items remain home, and encourage even the oldest kids to consider a few comfort items to remind them of home. For the younger set, start with the easy stuff, like sticker books, MadLibs, fidgets and more.
Plan communication. Including stationary, pre-addressed envelopes, stamps and pens, makes it MUCH more likely you’ll hear from them. That may include fill-in-the-blank questions (sold online) for information like their counselors’ names, what they like best about camp so far, and even what they ate that night for dinner. Have them write a couple of letters to themselves that you can send them as reminders of their mindset prior to camp. Give them some support in writing a little self pep talk, so they can get a little giggle or just notice any mindset shifts from before they have had the experience.
Meet people. Most camps are happy to connect your child to others in your neighborhood. Ask for a few names and reach out if you can. Knowing any familiar faces can help to ease anxiety on day one, and even in the mess hall!
Set a goal. Brainstorm with your child around something they are excited to try, learn or do. Create a few goals around that activity and what it will feel like to meet that goal this summer. If you can, remind them about skills they have learned in past summers, and be positive about the unique opportunity to do things that are hard.
Brush up on self-care tasks. It’s hard to brush your own teeth, take a shower and pick out your clothes if you don’t have some practice. Make sure your kids use the next few weeks to do as much for themselves as they will need to at camp. Can’t make their own ponytail or make their bed? Time to learn (with camp as a great excuse!). You can help them make a list of hygiene reminders and tape it to their toiletry bin (laminating or plastic sleeves may be useful here!).
Be realistic. For both the most excited and most anxious kids, it’s important to help them manage expectations. Help your child to remember that there will be good days and hard ones, joy and challenges, friendships and struggles. That’s normal and expected. Knowing and preparing for these can lessen the blow when they inevitably show up, so help talk it through openly. Resist over re-assuring or promising, and keep it honest and simple.
Thanks for being a part of Raising Good Humans. We are in this together.