Before starting the summer camp enrollment process, there’s some preparation involved.
It can initially seem overwhelming with so many types of camps to choose from and many different programs. However, with some guidance, you’ll quickly learn that it’s easy to prepare and give your child the camp experience they’ve always wanted.
Here are some tips for preparing your child (and yourself) for the summer camp season.
DO Attend an Open House or Get a Personal Tour of the Camp
Whether it’s to help prepare shy children and ease them into the camp experience or simply to familiarize them with a new environment, attending a camp open house or visiting the camp site is a great idea for campers and parents.
- Open houses or tours allow parents and campers to meet the camp staff to establish familiarity.
- Meeting the people who will be looking after your child for the duration of camp—whether it’s a day camp or an overnight camp—provides a sense of security for you and your child.
- The first day of camp can also be confusing. Attending an open house lets campers know precisely where to go on the first day—and keeps the first day as organized as possible.
A camp open house or personal tour also helps campers and parents get their questions answered in person. Sure, there’s always reaching out by phone or email—but nothing beats in-person conversations!
DON’T Force Camp on Your Child
Maybe you’re a parent who attended summer camp as a child and absolutely loved it. Maybe you want your child to participate in a camp (or any event) that gets them out of the house and meeting new friends.
Regardless of the circumstances, forcing summer camp on your child is never a good idea: if they want to go, they’ll tell you!
Forcing a child to be involved in activities they aren’t interested in is never a good idea. In some cases, they just might not be ready yet, and next year might be a better time.
In any case, only send your child to camp if it’s something they want to do. If they decide that the camp experience isn’t right for them, you still have plenty of options to encourage activity as a parent or guardian.
DO Involve Your Child in the Program Selection Process
Letting your child be a part of the selection process is important for children who want to attend camp.
Some children know exactly what they want to do. Perhaps they’ve been playing a new sport or studying a new interest for a few years and love it. They want to learn everything they can about their new sport or activity and become the best they can be.
In other cases, it’s not so clear. Your child might be involved in basketball at school, but they might not know how to tell you that they want to try something new.
That’s one of the awesome things about summer camp! There are so many exciting programs for your child to explore. It’s okay for them to want to try new things, and they’ll have plenty of opportunities at camp.
DON’T Leave Everything to the Last Minute
Summer camps always operate efficiently and smoothly when things are planned out in advance. Many summer camps will urge parents to sign up as early as possible to facilitate an easy transition for campers.
We get it: Sometimes, planning for something so far ahead is impossible. However, it’s essential to try and enroll in camp as early as possible to ensure your spot and lock in the best rates.
- Start your planning well in advance.
- Talk to your child about which summer camps they want to attend as early as the winter, if possible.
- Taking these steps to get organized early can help you in the long run.
DO Have Open Communication with Camp Staff
Camp staff and counselors will look after your child (and several others) throughout the summer camp season. That makes it all the more important to keep an open line of communication with them from the start.
- Make sure to communicate any allergies or dietary restrictions with camp staff right away. If you don’t tell them, they’ll never know.
- Take note of anything else important, such as your child’s medications, and be sure to share this with camp staff.
- Talk to the director or group leaders about your child and how best they thrive. Information that you share with the camp is kept confidential and used to give your child the best experience.
- Early and immediate communication helps create a smooth camp experience—and can even prevent safety issues in some cases!
Anytime you send your child to summer camp, you’ll almost always get a list of what to pack—whether it’s an overnight camp or a specific sports camp with an equipment list.
In nearly every case, this is all your child will need for camp. Refrain from sending them with too much!
If your child has certain medications or other essentials they need to take, by all means, pack those. However, sending them with too much can lead to lost items and other issues.
DO Check Camp Rules
All camps have a set of rules to ensure a smooth camp experience for everyone. Before sending your child off to camp, look at these rules and convey them to your child.
In most cases, camp rules are fairly simple: behave appropriately, no foul language, no horseplay, etc. However, some camps may have specific rules that might be less common.
Understanding the rules before heading to camp helps promote the best possible camp season for everyone involved.
DON’T Send Your Child with Banned Items
Part of checking the camp rules is looking at the banned items list. Keeping these items at home is essential to operate a summer camp smoothly.
There are many different types of banned items, such as banned foods, for example. Some camps only allow nut-free snacks or meals because of the risk of allergies. Be aware of these banned foods and keep them at home.
How Are You Preparing for Summer Camp?
One of the best things you can do during summer camp preparation is to get organized as soon as possible.
It’s never too early to plan for next summer’s camp season! For parents who want to get a head start, the Future Stars Camp Comparison Checklist helps you track valuable camp information to make planning for camp easy!
You can use our checklist to compare program info, costs, and much more. Download your copy today!