5 Tips for First-Time Overnight Campers

Photo By Brooklyn Morgan On Unsplash
Photo by Brooklyn Morgan on Unsplash

Whether you’ve attended summer camp as a child or whether your child is the first in your family to go to camp, sending your kid to camp takes some preparation and planning. If your son or daughter will be attending overnight camp for the first time, you have a lot to think about to give your child the best camp experience possible. Explore some of the following tips and techniques to prepare first-time overnight campers.

Experiment first with sleepovers

While camp provides a real-world experience of being away from home, you don’t want overnight camp to be the first time your child has ever spent the night away from home and family.

To get your child acclimated to the idea of overnight camp, try arranging for your child to spend a night or a few nights with relatives or at the home of one of their friends. Staying with relatives and friends you trust can help kids ease into the idea of spending a night or several nights away from mom and dad.

Invite your child to be part of the camp selection process

Parents often feel they need to make all of the decisions about camp. From researching camps and speaking with directors to organizing and packing, the most important person, your child, can get left out of the process.

Help your son or daughter take ownership in the camp experience by involving your child in the process as much as possible. Especially when it comes to an overnight summer camp, the more investment a child has in the decision, the more he or she will feel confident and comfortable with the idea of attending camp for the first time.

Keep communication open with your child

Camps have protocols in place for managing communication between campers and their parents. Camps generally have policies in place for handling phone calls, emails and letters from home.

Ask camp directors about the best ways to keep communication open with your child during camp. You may want to send a few letters to your child in advance of camp so that your son or daughter receives them when camp opens.

Alert the camp to any special concerns or needs

Does your child need to take medication? Is your son or daughter concerned about being homesick?

Before camp begins, alert the camp about any special concerns or needs your child may have. Camps are looking out for your child as much as you are looking out for your child. The more information the camp director, counselors and support staff have, the more they all can help your child acclimate to the camp environment and create a positive impression.

Pack some comforts from home

Your child may be attending overnight camp for the first time, but that doesn’t mean he or she should feel totally isolated from home. When you’re packing for camp, include personal objects that remind your child of home. A toy, a family photo or favorite snacks are all ways to make the overnight experience more comforting and pleasant for your child.

Sending your child to overnight camp for the first time is a major milestone. You can make this experience a loving and supportive one for you and your child.

Learn more tips about sending your children to camp courtesy of the American Camp Association (acacamps.org) and on our website.


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