School is almost out and your child will soon be on his way to sleep away camp. By the number of camp physicals I have been filling out recently, I can tell you that a lot of kids are sleeping away from home this summer. Most are so excited that they are counting the number of days and hours until they leave. And, believe it or not, their parents are excited, too. A whole week, or two, or three without being a maid or chauffeur. Only in my dreams!
Some kids, however, are a little less than enthusiastic. Summer camp can be a great experience and most kids love it – but only when they are ready. If your child really doesn’t want to go and has a hard time separating from you, he may not be ready yet. And, as much as you would love to get a break, you may want to wait until next summer. Remember that there is no law stating that your child must attend a sleep away camp before becoming an adult. There are plenty of kids who never go to camp and, guess what? They grow up to be wonderful, successful, adventurous adults!
However, before you throw away your much needed break this summer, there are some things you can do to make it more likely your less-than-willing child will want to go to camp and will end up loving it. Below are a few things you can do to ease him into thinking about camp and making him feel less homesick if, in the end, everyone decides to give it a try.
· Start by having him sleep over at a friend’s or relative’s house.
· Invite a friend over who has been to sleep away camp and have him tell your child all about it
· Look for a camp that doesn’t last too long and isn’t too far away from home.
· Try to find a friend or a sibling who wants to go with your child
· Go visit the camp (if possible) and show your child where he will eat, sleep, and do various activities
· Find a camp that has similar interests to your child’s
· Send your child to camp with a special shirt, stuffed animal, or something else from home
· Mail letters and packages early and often so your child knows you are thinking of him (you can even send one in advance so it is there the day your child arrives)
If and when he decides to go, chances are he will have a great time and want to go longer next year (so be careful of what you wish for!)