Summer camp season is an exciting time for children everywhere.
Veterans of camp get to see all of their old friends and get back to their favorite summer activities. Newcomers have a brand new experience to look forward to.
However, for shy kids, there can be some extra preparation involved. The excitement levels are there, but there are some strategies you can use to quell the uneasiness surrounding a new environment for a shy camper.
Here are five tips for preparing a shy child for summer camp.
Focus on the Positives
Children nearly always pick up on the mood and tone of their parents. If parents appear to be worried about a situation, the child will also start to worry.
When it comes to a shy child at camp, it’s okay to acknowledge their fear. However, focusing on the positive experience can help prepare them for camp. After all, summer camp is something for them to look forward to!
Does your shy child have a past positive social experience? If so, remind them of it. If they made a new friend at the park playing soccer together despite being shy, remind them how good it felt to push through that barrier.
Sometimes, all shy children need is positive encouragement to break through their fears.
Bring a Buddy
If your child is afraid of meeting all kinds of new people, why not send them with an old friend?
If possible, sending your child with a buddy can help them feel more at home and more comfortable—especially if this friend can help break the ice for them by meeting new people. Sending your child with a friend can also help remind them that they’re not alone. They can stick together to help your shy child feel more comfortable while away from home, whether it’s a traditional summer camp or a specialty camp.
Attend an Open House/Visit Camp
The first day of camp is always an exciting time—although it does require a bit of direction.
This is especially true for shy children. They’ll want to get accustomed to their environment beforehand to feel more comfortable in the facilities and around the camp staff.
An open house is a perfect place for shy children to have these experiences. Open houses give parents and campers a chance to survey their new surroundings and meet the staff members that are responsible for their overall camp experience.
This buffer period before the real thing can help shy children push through their fears and have an incredible camp experience.
If the season has already started, an on-site visit is a great option. Your child will be able to see all the other campers having fun and it can help them to better understand and familiarize themselves with the camp experience.
It’s also a great option for parents who are unable to make the specified open house dates.
Choose a Camp With a Higher Individual Focus
If you’re sending your shy child to a specialty camp with program choices, you can help them with the program you choose.
It’s important to listen to your child to figure out what camp program they might be interested in. However, encouraging them to join a camp with a more individualized focus can help them build confidence in going to camp.
Camps rooted in academics are good places to start, such as art camps or science camps. For campers that prefer sports, an individual sport might work best, such as tennis.
Don’t Force It
Don’t get us wrong. We love summer camp, and we believe that it’s one of the best ways to provide children with an opportunity to meet new friends and create unforgettable memories.
However, sometimes shy campers simply aren’t ready for camp yet. That’s why it’s important not to force them or push them too hard.
Instead, reassure them that it’s okay to wait and not go this year. Let them know that there’s always an opportunity the following summer. When they’re ready to go, they will let you know, and they’ll have the time of their lives!
Questions About Shy Kids at Camp?
Future Stars staff have helped plenty of shy campers to break through their comfort zone, make new friends, and create amazing memories. For questions about what you can do to help them, reach out to us. We’re here to help.