PREPARING YOUR CHILD FOR SUMMER CAMP

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It may be hard to believe that the sleep-away camp season is right around the corner, but in our case at Circle F Dude Ranch Camp we are only little over six weeks from the start of our first summer session. Many parents ask us how does our overnight camp deal with homesickness issues? While there are many techniques that are used by our trained staff, there are several important things that parents can do from home before their camper ever depart for camp.

Camp is an amazing place where campers learn personal reasonability, experience the outdoors, and grow in their interpersonal relationships. This growth is facilitated by a camper’s separation from their parents during their camp session.That being said, every camper experiences a little bit of sadness when they leave their parents.As a parent myself, I think we all hope that they miss us at least a little bit while they are gone.

How we as parents manage that sadness often directly affects the success of our child while at sleep-away camp. We often forget that the words that we say and how we act has a great amount of bearing on our children.Parents who spend the weeks leading up to camp talking about how sad they will be while their child is away will in many ways are set their child up to not be successful at camp. Children hear that their parents need them and can’t survive without them.

Often at summer camp we will hear from campers about how their mother or father need them to be home and they need to leave. Campers often receive letters from home about how everyone misses them at home including the dog, cat, and other pets and they wish they were there. As parents we have to ask ourselves, what is the message that I am sending to my child? Is it a message that suggests that they need to return home? Messages like this in turn fuel homesickness in most campers.

I am not saying that we should refrain from telling our children we will miss them. We, however, must focus our message on the positive. Our campers must hear from parents how important this experience will be for them. How the parent wants them to have this positive and fun camp experience and that as parents, we are behind them always.

Furthermore, taking the time to show the camper the camp facility, the camp website or pictures can be a huge help. If possible, it is even better to schedule a tour at the camp. Our Florida summer camp has hundreds of visits every year with parents and campers. The ability to see the place they will be attending camp and meet staff in advance always helps campers. Most important is to have a positive conversation or conversations about camp before the overnight camp starts. Answer your camper’s questions and if needed be in contact with the summer camp director for help answering questions.

As a camp director, but more as a parent, I want to see all of our campers be successful as they experience summer camp.I hope these tips help point you in the right direction as you start preparations for this summer. Know that the summer camp director is always happy to help you and if you have any questions you should always feel comfortable contacting your camp’s staff. At Circle F Dude Ranch, we happily take calls all day long and on weekends as we prepare for the summer.IMG_9355

Look forward to seeing you this summer. Check out our next post to find out more about the techniques we use here at camp to combat homesickness and help our camper acclimate to camp.

Ben Moss is the Camp Director at Circle F Dude Ranch Camp. He has over 20 years of youth development experience working in youth programing and summer camps.

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