There are so many benefits for a child who attends overnight camp. They will enjoy new activities led by the camp staff, visit a fun new place, and break up the routine of normal life. The adventures at summer camp bring life-long memories and help children gain confidence and independence. We want kids to hit the ground running so they can thrive in the camp experience, so here are three skills that parents can build now to help their kids navigate summer camp like a pro.
Train kids to start-up their day. Kids at summer camp need to make good use of their time and know how to get going with their day. Mom doesn’t have to put the daily clothes in a plastic bag. Maybe she could guide the selections while packing for camp, but elementary kids can start their day at camp with picking out clothes, brushing teeth, and getting shoes on. They might need a wake-up call from the adults at camp, but practice during the school year with a start-up routine so kids can pick out clothes and get dressed for the day at camp.
Equip kids to eat responsibly at camp. The food at camp is almost always a punchline, but food issues are no laughing matter. For first time campers, going through the line and making selections at a self-service dining hall can be a challenge. For campers with special dietary allergies, they need to be self-aware about safe foods or problematic ones. For all campers, the temptation to eat a whole box of cheese snacks at bedtime will be real … but that’s never a good idea! Before camp, your kids need to practice making choices for fixing their plate and cleaning up their table area, too.
Give kids practice with handling money. Most parents send their kids to camp with some spending money, but for some kids it is the first time they have ever handle money that is theirs to make decisions about. Prepare kids for the restaurant stop on the way to camp, the camp store, and considering the missions offering. I’ve seen kids hand a fast food worker their $20 bill for lunch and walk off, and I’ve also heard about kids who spend all their money on the offering and camp store and have nothing left to buy lunch on the way home.
Parents can role-play scenarios related to each of these at home to set them up for success at summer camp and for normal life. When kids come to camp taking care of these things, the church leaders and camp staff can focus their time and energy on making the amazing camp adventures into life-long memories!
For more on getting kids ready for summer camp, check out these tips for helping kids who are hesitant to stay away from home, and tips for preparing parents to send kids to camp.