Two months in to 2018, and the thought process begins – summer camp. Where to send the children? Are they ready to go to camp? Those are the two questions in my mind.
Other questions that some parents have are, “Should I send the children to day camp?” “Should I send the children to sleep away camp?” “Should I send them to sports camp?” “Should I send them to another specialized programming camp?”
There are so many factors that will pop into your mind when deciding on sending your child to camp, and where to send them. I have two children, one will be 8 in the summer, and the other will be 4 in the next few weeks. Quite an age gap.
I sent my almost 8 year old to day camp last year for the first time. She loved it. It was a general camp which is very close to where I live. I toured the camp, got a feel for the environment, and what the camp included in terms of activity. I felt that she was emotionally ready to go to camp last year for the first time.
Most camps have programs for children as young as 4 for a full day. I have been sitting on the fence for a bit about whether or not to send my almost 4 year old. I finally have decided not to send him to camp. I don’t feel he is emotionally ready to be at camp. I think that he needs a bit more time in order mature mentally. I believe he will need more structure, structure that school will be able to provide.
After going through the process myself, I have some tips which I think can help you make the best decision for your child/children.
Observe your child’s independence.
Before I decided to send my daughter to camp last year, I watched and assessed her behavior at home as well as outside with other kids in organized activities outside of a school setting. What I looked for was my daughter being able to entertain herself as well as being able to participate in a group setting.
I also looked at whether she came to me to tell me what was going on when she was in these activities, as well as when she came home from school (being able to go thru and tell me about what happened at school and how she felt about it).
This helped me to gain comfort with her being in a different type of setting for a full day. I get it. Most people would assume that since their child goes to school that the child should be well prepared to go to camp. Maybe it was because this is a first time parent sending my daughter to camp and being nervous. I will take full ownership of that. But, I think it is important to continuously assess if your child is ready to embark on different experiences.
Determine emotional maturity for day camp versus sleep away camp.
I already know that my daughter is not ready for sleep away camp, so that was not a consideration. My tip for assessing if your child is ready also plays into the first tip – your child’s independence. In addition, if you are speaking with your child about sleep away camp, see how they initially react. If they grab the idea and run with it, then maybe you can consider having your child go.
If your child cringes and is worried about being away from home for a set period of time, then maybe this is not the year for you to send your child. I also read about having your child do a sleep over for a few days away from home (at a relative’s house). This can help to ease your child into being away from home and the familiarity of their room, their siblings, their pets, and their parents.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to figure out what is best for your child when it comes to summertime activities. Good luck to all who are summer camp searching!