Are you wondering if your child is ready for overnight summer camp? This is a question that is best answered by parents, because only you know the individual traits of your child. Parents can start to plant the seed for their camper-to-be as early as age 5 or 6. Parents can tell stories of their own experiences and fun times and even read stories of summer camp adventures. Older siblings might reflect on what they best enjoyed about camp. All this can help your child feel comfortable about imagining that perfect someday when they will be heading off to camp. It might not be too early to start exploring the subject!
Traditionally by the time children reach 7 or 8 years of age overnight summer camp is in the minds of camp families. I know that this might seem like an early age, but there is no better place than SNC for a child to gain independence in a caring, loving community. So often, we hear campers say they wish they had started their time at SNC earlier. Children love the activities, relationships, and the sense of choice offered at SNC. It is not unusual that once a camper starts coming to SNC, he or she wants to return year after year and eventually even become counselors.
Children who have been exposed to the concept of camp early often become more and more excited about the opportunity to go to camp. Here are some clues that your child may be ready for that first stay at SNC:
- Asking to go to camp
- Showing interest in camp stories or activities
- Looking forward to sleepovers at homes of friends and relatives
- Showing a natural curiosity and desire for independence
If the clues may not be as clear, your child may need a gentile nudge toward considering a choice of trying summer camp. One of the best ways to start the conversation is to do some online research to come up with a few different camps that you feel might be a good fit for your child's needs and preferences. Not all camps are the same and finding the right one is important, starting with the best candidates. Then you sit down with your child and have a conversation about overnight summer camp, maybe do a little "selling" of the cool stuff they might be doing. Next you can let them know that you have looked over a few camps and that you would like to review them together. When you and your child review the camps you have picked out, try to maintain good communication, highlighting what you like and making sure to listen closely to what your child says he or she might like. A child who feels a sense of choice and control over this decision is far more likely to enjoy his or her time away. At SNC our Discovery Camp offers the perfect opportunity for children to try camp and get all the additional support they might need for their first time away.
Some parents might wonder if a shorter program might be the best way to have their child try camp "on for size". We have found over the years that a session that is too short may lock a child into homesickness and only counting the days till parents come to their rescue. We feel that a slightly longer session gives your child the opportunity to acclimate and time to succeed and feel good about their new found independence - so much so that they will want to return to camp again for more fun and friendship.
The right attitude is critical for inspiring your child to look forward to that new sleep away summer camp experience. Once the decision is set into motion, be sure to encourage, support and let your child know that you are proud that he or she has chosen to go to camp.