Here comes the summer! And for many kids, that means summer camp. Many will be heading away for sleep-away camps where they'll make new friends (and catch up with old) and have fun experiencing new things and ideas. Sleep-away camps provide great opportunities for kids to learn life skills, too. If you've yet to register your child for summer camp this year, it's not too late. Many residential camps still have openings, and below is a list of residential camps to explore. Your child won't be anxious about going away to camp if you're not. Get your kids ready for sleep-away camp with a little planning and key conversations so you can send him off for fun.
What age is Best?
You know your child better than anyone else, and you'll generally know if he's ready for a residential camp experience. Every child comes with a different temperament, so age shouldn't be the only determining factor — most residential locations accept campers as young as 8 years old. "Parents should look at their child's attitude toward being away from home as well as their child's personality factors," says Frank Sileo, Ph.D., author of Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids About Homesickness (Health Press NA Inc; $14.95). Just because you went to a specific camp as a child does not mean this camp will fit your child. You need to evaluate whether a particular camp will meet your child's disposition and talents. Never force your child to go to camp.
WHICH CAMP IS RIGHT?
When selecting a residential camp, keep in mind your child's interests and personality to find one that best suits him. The American Camp Association (ACA) recommends asking yourself and your camper the following questions when looking at residential camps:
1. Do you want a traditional camp offering a variety of experiences or a specialized camp focusing on only one area of interest?
2. What size enrollment will my child feel most comfortable in?
3. How structured a schedule will best suit my child?
4. How can I stay in touch with my camper? Does the camp allow phone calls, mail and e-mail?
5. What session length will work best for my child? Explore different camp websites, pamphlets and brochures with your child.
Talk about your child's goals. What does he want to do and get from camp? "When children are involved, even in a small way in the decision-making process, they will experience increased feelings of control," says Sileo. They will be more comfortable with the final decisions.