The Value of A Visit- Is Your Child Ready for Sleep-Away Camp?

July 19, 2016

In the midst of all the fun blogs about “everyday” at camp – we wanted to share information for families who might be exploring summer options for Summer 2017. Read on to learn about the Value of A Visit and determine if your child is ready for the sleep away experience.

At some point, most parents will consider sending their child to sleep-away camp. How will you know when your child is ready? How young is too young? Here are some thoughts to ponder:

There is no simple answer to these questions because every child is an individual with many differences in preferences, enthusiasm, maturity, and ability to tolerate separation. When to start sending your child to sleep-away camp is a decision that depends on you, your parenting style, and your child’s disposition. Age is only one part of this decision. Also, for some parents, the thought of their child EVER going to camp without them is unimaginable. Sometimes, “they’re not ready for camp” actually means you’re not ready. Realizing that your child can be okay without you is sometimes hard, and it’s a big step to let them go. Camp professionals have been helping kids separate and become more independent for years.

To determine readiness, consider the following questions:

Does your child enjoy spending time away from your family for sleepovers, sports or vacations with friends?

How easily does your child make friends? Socialize with other kids? Separate from parents?

Has your child participated in group activities such as day camp programs, team sports or youth organizations?

Does your child advocate for him/herself?

How independent and responsible is your child?

Does your child transition well and adapt to change?

Parents tend to worry about logistics: Will someone make sure they eat? Know my child’s food allergies? Is there a nurse or doctor on staff who can dispense medications? Will my child remember to put on sunscreen?

Know that, at a well-run, accredited program, like Camp Tall Timbers, counselors are trained to take care of young children. Counselors will make sure your camper gets enough water, eats properly, manages a child’s food allergies, and puts on sunscreen. We have a nurse on site 24/7.

If you, as the parent, are confident in your child’s ability to be away from you. And you are able to express that confidence to your child. And YOU can handle the separation then your child is probably ready for sleep-away camp.

When considering a camp, tour and visit with your child. Also, consider family camp events where you, as a family, can experience camp together. In addition, some camps like Camp Tall Timbers offer camp experiences in a 1-2 week session as a transition for first time campers.

When selecting a camp, check out the camp resource for families at acacamps.org. The American Camp Association site offers suggestions on how to find the right camp for your child.

A lot about readiness also has to do with your child’s expectations. It is these expectations that will drive the experience. This is not the age to force camp upon a hesitant child. The number one thing to consider is whether your child wants to go to camp or not.

In The Summer Camp Handbook: Everything You Need to Find, Choose and Get Ready for Overnight Camp-and Skip the Homesickness – January, 2000, Christopher Thurber, PhD, and Jon Malinowski, PhD, say, “Most children have an intuitive feeling about when they are ready to be away from home, and how long seems comfortable.” According to the authors, overnight camping has six specific goals:
1. Have fun
2. Improve athletic, artistic, and intellectual skills
3. Nurture independence
4. Make friends and develop social skills
5. Experience a new environment
6. Learn from a positive adult role model

Camp Tall Timbers provides that and so much more. Experience what it means to get “away from the everyday”.
Schedule your private visit now or join our Open House on August 14.

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