Day camps are right around the corner. Here are 12 last-minute preparation tips before sending your child off for a great summer camp experience!
1. STAY HYDRATED.
Each night before attending camp, put one bottle of water in the refrigerator and a second one in the freezer. Later the next day, the frozen water will melt and provide cool refreshment. Also pack a spray bottle to help keep your child’s face and body cool in the hot sun.
2. SAFEGUARD THE SKIN.
Before leaving home, apply sunscreen to your child’s skin and pack a tube for later application. Be sure it has plenty of SPF and send a hat along for extra protection.
3. WARD OFF BUGS.
If your child is spending time in a natural environment, send insect repellent that is safe for children. Opt for lotion instead of spray. At night, double-check for ticks as a safekeeping measure.
4. DRESS RIGHT.
Most kids like to pick out their own clothes, but be sure your child is dressed for comfort, safety and appropriate temperatures. Dark jeans and t-shirts may be his favorite outfit, but they’re not a good option on hot days. Likewise, proper shoes are important. Exchange strappy sandals and flip-flops for a good pair of lightweight tennis shoes.
5. PERSONALIZE IT.
Items your child takes to camp should have her name, address and phone number on them in case something gets left behind. This can also avoid confusion if identical items are brought by two children.
6. TAKE A TECH BREAK.
Depending on the camp’s policies, you may want to keep cell phones and other valuable electronic devices at home. Day camp programs are designed to provide an enriching experience, and your child should be engaging in these activities rather than playing with electronics.
7. MAKE NOTE OF MEDICAL ALERTS.
If your child is on medication, you will be required to fill out a form. But even if you’ve taken your child off a medication for the summer, make a note of that, too, because changes in medication can cause changes in behavior. Likewise, list any known allergies.
Equally important is to share emotionally stressful situations with the camp staff (i.e., if your family is going through a divorce or has experienced a recent death), as this might affect how your child interacts throughout the day. Camps look out for the physical and emotional needs of a child, so the more information you provide, the better equipped they will be.
8. NOTIFY EMERGENCY CONTACT.
You will be required to designate an emergency contact person, but even more important is that this person knows you have written her name down. Every year camps call the emergency contact person and find out she was never informed. Before listing a person’s name on the form, call or send a text first!
9. READ UP.
Take time to review the camp’s policies, procedures and planned activities. If you know what to expect and what is expected of you, things will run much smoother. The camp may provide you with a weekly schedule so you know what the upcoming activities are and can talk with your child about them. If she cannot participate because of health reasons, make sure you (not your child!) inform the camp.
10. MEET THE STAFF.
If you are not able to attend an open house, make other arrangements to introduce yourself to the staff and those who will be caring for your child. This shows you care and may increase the chances of you staying informed on how things are going for your child at camp.
11. MAKE NEW FRIENDS.
If your child already knows other children at the camp, encourage him to step out and forge new friendships with those he may not interact with during the school year. With so many ways to communicate these days, it’s easier than ever for friendships to continue to grow long after camp is over.
12. KEEP TALKING.
Several weeks before camp begins, talk with your child about the upcoming experience. Does he have any apprehensions or anxiety? If so, reassure him that you have researched this camp well and believe he will have a positive experience. Since fear of the unknown is the greatest cause of worry, the more information you have about camp, the better off your child will be.
Each day when you pick him up, ask questions: What did he do? What did he enjoy most? Did he learn anything new? Did anything funny happen? Who did he interact with? While he’s talking, give him your full attention for a few minutes and don’t get distracted by phone calls, text messages or other to-dos. More than likely he’ll be eager to share his day with you.
Finally, encourage your child to be fully “present” and enjoy the camp experience. Mark the first day of camp on the family calendar and do a countdown. Help your child develop a checklist of items needed. And don’t forget to share your own camp stories. Remind your child to do his best, obey the rules, be respectful of others and have a great time!