Talking about Camp with Your First-Time Camper

Posted: May 20, 2013

You’ve done your research, worked as a family to find the right camp for your child’s experience, and signed up your camper for the experience of a lifetime! Naturally, leading up to the big “First Day of Camp,” he or she might have questions, just like the first day of school. Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings, and use this guide for talking about camp with your first-time camper!

Who will be my friends?
Reassure your camper that camp is all about making new friends! Some campers know each other from past summers or from school, but many come to camp in order to meet new friends. Camp counselors will help him or her make friends the very first day of camp. It's nice to have winter friends and summer friends — other kids with whom your camper shares special experiences.

Who will help me have fun at camp? How do they know how to care for me?
Group or bunk counselors are selected because they love working with kids. In fact, counselors are one of the best parts of camp! They are trained before camp begins to help campers have a good time, make new friends, and enjoy a variety of activities. Their job is to help campers have fun, be safe, and know their limits. They spend a lot of time before camp learning to do all these things for campers. And they love to have fun, too!

What if I have a problem?
There are lots of people at camp, besides counselors, to help take care of campers, depending on what they need. Let campers know that there is a nurse or a doctor if they don't feel well, and a special place, sometimes called a health center, to rest until they are better. Campers can count on the grownups that are at camp to help them with any problem they may have.

Will I be alright while I’m away from home?
Remind your camper of other times in his or her life that were spent away from home — sleepovers, a weekend a grandma’s, or even class trips. There’s no pressure to be anything but yourself at camp! The main point is just to relax and have fun. Remember to stay excited and positive about the camp experience. Talking at length about how much you will miss your camper can increase his or her anxiety. BONUS: Send a familiar object, such as a stuffed animal or blanket, with your camper. Send a letter or card in advance for your child to have the first day of camp.

For more tips on preparing for camp, visit www.CampParents.org.

Photo courtesy of Camp Kupugani, Leaf River, Illinois

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