Coping with First-Time Camp Experiences

For thousands, the camp experience has been a long-standing family tradition. For others, the camp experience seems almost counterintuitive. Send your child off to camp for maybe weeks at a time? "As parents, recognizing that you and your child are growing and learning on a journey together is key to adequately preparing yourself and your child for any type of separation, including going to camp for the first time," states Peg Smith, former chief executive officer of the American Camp Association (ACA)*.

Preparing Children for the Summer Camp Experience

"Summer camp is more than a vacation for children," says Bruce Muchnick, Ed.D., a licensed psychologist who works extensively with day and resident camps. "As a parent, there are a few things to consider to increase the opportunity for a rewarding camp experience for your child." Some helpful suggestions provided by Dr. Muchnick and the American Camp Association include:

How to Help Your Child Have a Great Time at Camp

A summer at camp is much more than a vacation for children. At camp, kids enjoy the outdoors and develop a greater appreciation for the environment. Campers experience the companionship of other children and acquire skills that improve self-confidence, increase self- reliance, enhance the ability to cooperate with others, and, hopefully, a greater awareness of life that is larger than one’s self.

Hopefully, the acquisition and refinement of such skills will contribute in positive and significant ways to the child’s adjustment and will carry over into his/her adult years.

Resources and Highlights

Expert Advice

Discover what the experts are saying about the value of camp. 

Videos for Parents

The videos were designed to answer your critical questions about finding the right camp, specialized programming, and how the camp experience can meet your child’s needs. 

Camp Squared? Deciding if camp should be a sibling experience

Camp can be a beneficial, fun, life-changing experience for every child, but if you have two or more children in your household the biggest decision looking ahead to this summer may be "Do I send one or all of them to camp?"

Even if your children get along famously and enjoy many of the same activities, before you decide to send anyone to a residential camp for a summer adventure they'll never forget, you should ask yourself the following questions about each of your children individually:

Hooking Up, Losing Out: The New Culture of Teen Sex

Episodes of group oral sex that rocked a well-heeled New England prep school—coupled with similar incidents in a diverse set of communities across the country—raise important questions about early intimacy among teens and the physical, social, and emotional toll it can take on young lives. Just as important, it points to the "reality gap" between increasingly normative sexual behavior among youth and commonly held perceptions of adults. 

More Than a Village: Underage Drinking in America

A report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility) sounds the alarm on an epidemic of underage drinking in America. In the spirit of "it takes a village," it also serves up a strategy suggesting the participation of most all segments of society. From parents and pubs, to cops and congressmen, everybody has a role to play. As well they should.

Teens Today research from SADD and Liberty Mutual Group points to some startling facts about youth and alcohol.

The Phantom Menace: Drugging and Driving Poses Threat to Teens During Summer Season

"Summer's lease hath all too short a date," wrote William Shakespeare, apparently foreshadowing the all-too-soon approach of fall. But a short summer season is time enough still for even the most unlikely of kids to find trouble in the most likely of places:  cars and roadways. Indeed, reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make clear the devastating spike in teen fatalities during June, July, and August.

Holding On, Letting Go: Graduation Season Brings Risk and Reward

High school seniors everywhere will soon embrace a graduation season marked by pomp and circumstance, risk and reward.  Staying safe means balancing freedom with responsibility and communicating honestly with parents.  For many teens, those aren't easy assignments.

Young people venturing closer to true independence yearn for the freedom that parents extend based on assurances that nurture trust.  But, something funny often happens on the way to commencement. 

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