Ah, Summer Camp. A childhood tradition I remember very fondly. My camp experience was a little different from most, however, because from age 8-11 I was shipped to an international gymnastics camp for three weeks and was in a chalky, sweaty gym for ten hours a day. Nevertheless, I still got a taste of the traditional Summer Camp life through camp ice creams, cabin chores, pool games, outdoor activities, and the opportunity to form forever friendships.
Summer Camp is kind of a "Rite of Passage" in growing up. It is most likely your kids' first taste of independence. It is also a "Rite of Passage" for you as a parent. You get to experience the bittersweet wonder of letting them go and make their own memories out from under your parental wing. The time to dust off the camp trunks and pile up the car is fast approaching. As a former camper and camp counsellor, I'm here to give you some quick advice on how to make the Summer Camp experience the best for both you and your kids.
I cannot stress this enough. Bloggers Hollee Actman Becker and Tracy Morrison also agree. If you are experienced in the field of "Summer Camp" you already know the drill. Even if you pack the freshest change of clothes for every single day (with an extra outfit, because, you know, you're an awesome, think-ahead parent) your kids will still most likely stick to the same 5 shirts and shorts for the duration of their stay. In addition, DO NOT pack superfluous, luxury items that you think your kids cannot live without. They definitely can live without the hairdryer, new street shoes and clothes, three towels, and their iPad/iPhone/smartphone/tablet/electronic device. Packing light will save you time and energy, and decrease the probability that your kids will lose something.
Without a doubt, mail is a big highlight of camp. I remember always waiting for a letter or, even better, a "care package" from my parents filled with fun goodies such as candy, letters, photos, and small trinkets to keep with me in my cabin. Sending letters to your little campers lets them to keep a piece of home with them at their new and wonderful place. Mail and care packages can also be used as a fun conversation piece to tell their new friends more about their lives outside of camp.
Advice from Camp Winnebagoe
This is summer camp, not a luxury getaway. Things will get dirty, things will get wet, things will get lost. Ziploc bags to the rescue! Use ziploc bags to store important documents, electronic items, and chargers to keep them dry. Use them to keep your kids' things organized and (relatively) clean. Have a large, labelled ziploc bag for their socks and underwear, one for dirty clothes, one for their hair products, etc. This way, your child can easily find what they are looking for, and the items have a smaller chance of getting dirty or lost.
Ideas taken from Today.com
Take the time for both of you to adjust to "camp life"
This awesome experience may take some adjustment on both you and your kids' parts. Be sure to take some time to let those adjustments happen. On one hand, your child might be just fine from the get-go and enjoy all of his/her experiences. On the other hand, your child might cry and miss home and not want to participate for the first fews days. Both reactions are completely normal. Each member of the camp's staff has most likely been specifically trained to deal with all kinds of camper highs and lows. Let your kids have their adjustment periods. If they call home and ask for you to come get them, tell them to have a little patience. Within a week, they will be more comfortable, form some great friendships, and be more open to experiencing all that their fantastic camp has to offer. Don't forget to let yourself adjust to camp life too. Your kids are going to be gone, and you are definitely going to miss them! You may be tempted to scour camp's website for photos and analyze their little faces to see if they are smiling that smile they smile when you know they are having fun . You may also want to try to talk to them every day on the phone if their camp allows it. For your sanity and for their interest, don't. Your children are in good hands, and are being given the opportunity to do amazing things every single day. Give them the chance to enjoy it to the fullest. And, you know what you get to do while they're away? RELAX. Maximize your time off and do things you normally wouldn't be able to do: pamper yourself, go to a late dinner, or see an PG-13/R rated movie. You will have plenty of time to hear about all of their camp adventures on visiting or pick-up day.
Advice taken from: Today.com