5 Tips to Prepare a Nervous Child for Summer Camp


Summer camp is awesome, but it can also be scary.

My daughter was both excited and terrified for her first week at sleepaway camp. Her first camp experience happened to occur in the period right after the pandemic, so drop-off was quick and we weren’t allowed out of the car. As we drove away, my child was sobbing. Luckily, she had a blast at summer camp and is signed up for two weeks this year.

Here are 5 tips to make your child’s first experience with summer camp a positive one- because it is possible to prepare a nervous child for summer camp!

1. If possible, sign your child up to attend camp with a friend.

I’m convinced that the only reason my daughter was interested in summer camp was because two of her friends from school were going the same week. This is a really easy way to prepare a nervous child for summer camp. She signed up for the same session and felt a lot better that she would know two people in her cabin. Also, they were able to talk to her about all the amazing things they had done at camp the previous summer. Better yet, my daughter could ask them any questions she had. I could also ask their parents any questions that I had. Having so much information helped both of us feel more at ease. In this case, the steps needed to prepare a nervous child for summer camp were the exact same steps to prepare a nervous parent!

Photo by davidraynisley on Pixabay

2. Visit the camp ahead of time.

Seeing the space can really help a nervous child visualize what camp will look like. It also helps alleviate fears of getting lost. My daughter’s camp hosts day activities periodically, which allows prospective or returning campers a chance to explore. Many camps also host work days in the spring to get the camp spruced up for the summer season. Both of these are great ways to see the camp space and to meet staff members and other campers. If your camp doesn’t offer anything like this, you can try contacting them and see if there’s a time you can stop by and walk around the camp. If the summer camp is too far away, you can usually find plenty of pictures on the camp’s website.

3. Plan the packing ahead of time.

There are a lot of things to pack for summer camp. Don’t wait to pack until the last minute, it will be very stressful for both of you. If your child needs something special to sleep with, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, make sure to send it. My daughter gets very excited to go shopping, so we usually make a trip to the mall to find a new swimsuit and a couple of new outfits to send to camp. You will need to send clothes for all types of weather, so be prepared for lots of luggage! Just don’t send anything irreplaceable to camp because it may get lost or dirty. Last year, my daughter lost one of her sandals at camp. How does that even happen?!?

Photo by whitedaemon on Pixabay

4. Send letters to your child while they’re at camp.

My daughter does tend to get a little homesick, so I make sure to send her letters from home while she’s away at camp. Her summer camp allows parents to drop off letters along with the children, so you don’t have to worry about mailing them at the right time. Just put the camper’s name and the date to be delivered on the envelope and you’re set! Other camps might allow emails or even phone calls. Just check the camp’s policy so you know what to expect. Also, it can be fun to hide a small surprise gift in your child’s suitcase. They will find a fun treat while unpacking!

5. Overall, keep things positive!

As a parent, it can be stressful to let your child go off to summer camp without you. However, sharing those worries will add to your child’s nervousness.

It’s not that hard to prepare a nervous child for summer camp if you focus on all the fun your child will have at camp, and share stories of the fun you had as a child when you went to summer camp. Once my daughter got over her nerves about being away from home, she had a blast at camp. She learned so many new things and made new friends.

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5 Tips to Prepare a Nervous Child for Summer Camp

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