Now that memorial day has passed and schools are concluding, it’s time to really start thinking about camp. Preparing millennial campers for a summer sans smart phones and sleeping in may seem like an impossible feat, but there’s a science to help your family properly prepare. Read on as three Texas camp gurus spill their secrets to a successful summer experience.
1. Get Your Child Revved Up
You can start getting your child excited for sleep-away camp long before her trunk is packed. Helene Abrams, a Dallas-based advisor with Tips on Trips and Camps, tells parents to let their children buy their own supplies to get them excited for their time away. She said parents should talk about the fun experiences their child will have, such as meeting new friends and learning new skills, but what’s left unsaid is just as important: “Never tell them you will miss them.”
2. Embrace Reality
Separation from parents can be a big achievement in a child’s life, but that doesn’t mean the transition comes easy. James Eastland, vice president of Camp Mystic, said homesickness is normal for campers, especially those leaving home for the first time. But proper preparation can help alleviate a child’s anxiety.
Eastland encourages parents to talk to their children about the realities of homesickness so they understand it’s a normal feeling. He advises parents to make a wall calendar weeks in advance to generate excitement while putting the length of their time away in perspective. Additionally, he tells parents to drop a letter in the mail the day before their child goes to camp so they have something to open at the first mail call.
3. Remain Upbeat
Speaking of snail mail, it’s important to choose your words wisely. Christine Baskin, owner of Camp Balcones Springs, said to be mindful of what you write to your camper and always remain upbeat. “Save devastating news — the hamster dies, you’re moving to a different home — for later, when your child has returned home with stories about their camp experience,” she said.
Baskin tells parents to send plenty of letters, emails, and care packages, but understand it might not be a two-way street. The lack of letters from your campers can often be a sign that they are busy enjoying their time away.
4. Encourage Independence
Abrams encourages parents to let children bathe themselves, pick out their own outfits, and create their own snacks to encourage independence. “Let them do for themselves,” she said. Taking on these simple daily tasks will cut down on any guesswork later.
5. Trust the Camp
At the end of the day, trust the camp you choose. Parents are often just as nervous as their campers, but Baskin said it’s important to trust your gut. “Check out safety records, camper-to-counselor ratios, and the qualities of facilities to make sure your child will be safe and properly supervised,” she said.
This appeared in the May issue of Preston Hollow People.