Are you sending your child off to a youth camp this summer? If this is the first time your child has headed off to experience the fun of a camp, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to prepare. Youth camps are all about engaging in fun activities and learning new skills, as well as helping children meet new people and adapt to living in a large group. It’s like scouts, but on a bigger scale.
Getting yourself (and your child) prepared before they head off is the key to having a successful trip, so here is a quick list of some hints and tips that can help your packing and preparation run smoothly:
Choose a camp carefully
If your child has had a hectic and stressful year at school, with exams looming and tough coursework to complete, they might be better off at a youth camp where fun activities can help them blow off a little steam. If this sounds about right, then avoid any where education is the main focus and let them have a blast instead. They’ll look forward to it a lot more, and their next year’s schoolwork will thank you for it too. Alternatively, if your child seems happy, well rested and relatively happy during term time, a camp with some educational aspects can give them a great head start when it comes to next year’s workload, and will actually make school a fair bit easier for them.
Meet up Early
If your child has difficulty making new friends easily, try to find out whether there are any other families near you with kids going to the same camp. If there are, a quick meet up early can help break the ice and increase your child’s confidence as they’ll feel more secure in the knowledge that they’ll know at least one person when they arrive. Once they’ve started at the camp they’ll learn how to make new friends, and visiting next year will be less of a worry.
Make sure you pack everything that the camp asks your child to bring. Leaving out any of the essentials means that your child won’t be able to take full advantage of the activities on offer, and they might end up feeling isolated as a result. So, if it says to pack a swimming costume, make sure you pack one, even if your child is a bit reluctant. It’s always better to pack something and not need it, than leave something out and have your child as the only one at camp who can’t join in.
Summer camps will often be quite a distance away, and if you have to provide your own transportation to get there, why not see if other parents want to work together as a car pool. It gives kids the chance to build up friendships before they arrive and gives them the security of knowing at least one person when they get there. Plus, it helps share the responsibility between families, is an environmentally friendly way of travelling and helps cut down on transport costs!
Pack them a gift box
Before your child disappears on their latest adventure, surprising them with a gift box will bring a smile to their face. Give them a few items that they can make use of at the camp, and they’ll have even more to enjoy. A shoe box is fine, and you can wrap it up too. Here are some fun ideas for gifts to fill it with:
- A disposable camera, so that they can share their adventures with you when they get home.
- A small torch and some extra batteries.
- Some writing paper, envelopes and stamps (depending upon how long they are going away for).
- Jokes and tricks – everything from water balloons to joke soap will provide hours of endless (and harmless) fun.
- Puzzle books and a novel
- Family photo
- A letter you’ve written them – keep it upbeat, try and leave out anything too embarrassing, and tell them you can wait to hear about their adventures
Beth has been running summer camps for a year and is passionate about children keeping active and having fun!