I’m no stranger to sending kids to sleep away camp. My “biggie” kids have been going for several years and the benefits are countless.
This year, I have a new crop of kids who are great ages for sleep away camp, so for the first time in a few years, I found myself revisiting the age old question of “ARE THEY READY?” Of course, I’m not sure I’m ready, but as a wise Camp Director once told me, “Sorry Julie, this isn’t about YOU!” Fine thing.
After setting my personal anxieties aside, I looked at my two little darlings and asked myself the following:
Do they want to go to camp? If they want to go, it’s a pretty good indication that they’re ready. Of course, kids can be indecisive – one minute they want to go and another minute they don’t. When they say they don’t want to go, it’s likely that they’re worried about homesickness. So, I remind my kids that it’s completely normal and they likely will be homesick at some point. But it usually passes and doesn’t interfere with the overall camp experience. Besides, camp staff are trained to deal with this issue. A homesick kid is the biggest and most common issue they deal with.
As the parent, our job is to consider how severe the homesickness will be. So when trying to determine whether they’re ready or not, you can ask yourself these questions:
- When at home, does your kid stay in their own bed every night? If you wake up every morning having discovered a little visitor migrated into your bed during the night, the kiddo might not quite be ready
- Does your child feel comfortable having a sleepover with extended family or close friends? If they’d rather be glued to you than have a fun sleepover at Grandma’s house, this could be a sign that the kiddo is not ready for camp
- Can you get a little friend to go too? My kids like going to camp with siblings, but kids are put in cabins according to age so siblings don’t usually get to stay together. A familiar friend from home or school can sometimes help a kiddo feel more comfortable.
- Have your kiddos had the chance to see camp for themselves? My two kids that are up for camp consideration this summer have been able to visit their siblings at camp, which has familiarized them with the camp setting. This can be helpful.
After putting kids #4 and #5 through this little test, these were the results:
YES, this kid is ready camp! She’s signed up and ready to go!
Sorry buddy, maybe next year!
How do you decide if your little ones are ready for this experience? Do you have anyone heading off to sleep-away camp this season?
About the Author:
Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.