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Preparing Your Kids for Summer Camp

Peter Orszag recent wrote an article discussing some of the problems with summer vacation: getting a little lazy physically and mentally.

A great way to curtail the issues mentioned by Orszag is to send your kids to summer camp. While this might seem like passing your kids off to keep them out of your hair for a while, summer camp is a great way to foster independence, build confidence, and promote self-discovery. Here are some tips to prepare your kids for camp.

  • Acquaint yourself with the camp. Many camps have open houses or orientations before camp starts. This is a great chance for you and your kids to meet the camp staff and fellow campers. If the camp doesn’t have an orientation, try calling ahead to visit the camp. This can help you and your little camper quell anxieties by building familiarity with this new space. At the very least, look through the camp’s website and materials for information and photos regarding staff, accommodations, and the camp environment.
  • Make sure your child is involved. Shop for camp gear and pack with your child. You’ll get things you know she’ll like and you’ll be happy to know she’s outfitted with everything she needs. If the camp sends out or posts an activity schedule, go through it with your kids. You can plan things together and stay informed all at once. Getting your kids to participate helps build commitment, enforces the idea of responsibility, and may help to replace their anxieties with genuine excitement.
  • Keep your kids from quitting. While many children are bursting with excitement at the thought of camp, others may be more reluctant. New experiences can be scary for anyone, especially kids. Make it clear to your kids that you’re there for them and willing to listen, but reinforce the idea that you’ve both committed to going. Show them you care, but let them know they can’t quit things so easily.
  • Focus on friendship. Camp is a great opportunity for your kids to meet other kids who don’t go to their school. Spend some time reminding your kids how to meet new people, from simple introductions to questions they might ask.
  • Let go and squash anxieties. Kids can sense your worry and will react to it with worries of their own. Make the drop off as quick as possible. The more you linger, the more nervous your kids will be. It helps to remind yourself that this will be a great, positive experience for your kids. They’ll get fresh air, make new friends, and work up a sweat to fight off any effects mentioned in the Peter Orszag article. In the end, they’ll be much the better for having gone through it.

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