Preparing for Camp: Tips for Campers (and Parents!)

Posted: April 09, 2014

Guest post by Brooke Cheley-Klebe

Cheley Colorado Camps

I love those rare moments of parenthood when I am not preparing for the next thing. Most of the time as a parent, I feel as if my day is full of getting something ready. Small things like breakfast, sack lunches, and backpacks. Big things like preparing my children to become productive adults. Our job as a parent is to prep!

It’s spring, and summer camp is on the horizon. Here are some things that you can do to prepare your camper and yourself for camp. 

Camper

  • Plan several sleep overs. Resist the urge to pack their bags for them or to check on them while there. If they have a phone, have them leave it at home. This is a good way to practice not having direct or constant contact. 
  • Have them write a good ol’ letter to someone. You will thank me when you receive a letter from camp!
  • Gear up physically. If you have purchased hiking boots, break them in with a long walk.
  • Especially for teenagers, have them take a mini-vacation from their devices. A couple of hours or a weekend.
  • Have them write a statement for their social media pages. “Peace out Facebook, I won’t be sharing my day-by-days with you, I will be at camp.” Your teenager may not post that, but maybe something like it. 
  • Have them write down their goals.
  • Make a homesick plan:
  1. Homesickness isn’t entirely bad. It’s great to love your home. It’s sometimes part of the process, and it’s a confidence booster when a camper gets through it.
  2. Make a happy place plan and write it down. This is an amazing opportunity to learn a life skill. Today’s youth go to technology to escape, and studies show this increases their stress. Some ideas might be: taking 10 deep breaths, traveling to a happy place in your mind, packing a certain stuffed animal, shooting hoops, or tossing a football. They are capable of this independence.
  3. Your plan should NOT be, “Give it a couple of days and if you don’t like it, we will come get you.” This will set them up to give it a couple of days and knock the confidence right out of them.
  4. Let your camper know what to expect with correspondence. You don’t need to write everyday, but let them know what to expect.

   
Yourself

  • You are giving your child an incredible gift. I cannot promise you that they won’t lose some socks, that they will love every meal or activity, and that they will adore every counselor. But you are preparing them for college and beyond; you are giving them the freedom to gain confidence, independence, and leadership skills; and you are instilling in them that they can do it.
  • What do YOU want during their time at camp? Think about a vacation, time to organize, time to have one-on-one time with your other children, or some “date nights” with your spouse or friends. 
  • If you have apprehensions, work to resolve them. If you are worried that your camper is not going to know anyone, set up a pre-camp get-together. If you are worried about your camper’s medical needs, become friendly with the camp nurse. If you are anxious about their food allergies, talk to the camp’s head cook. Make a camper-sick plan for yourself. :) Make sure there is only excitement and optimism coming from you, and share your anxiety with another adult.
  • Pack self-addressed envelopes in their luggage.
  • Whether they are flying or driving, refrain from bawling until they can’t see you. Take a deep breath, trust, and remind yourself that you are giving them an awesome gift.

Brooke Cheley-Klebe is the 4th generation to operate Cheley Colorado Camps. She is the proud mom of three girls, Ellie, Kate, and Samantha, and loves being involved in the camp industry.

Photo courtesy of Cheley Colorado Camps, Estes Park, Colorado
 

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