It’s that time of year when kids are attending summer camps. I remember the first time I went as a child. I was entering sixth grade and was very nervous. I’d heard about all the pranks and practical jokes kids played on each other at camp and I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to be on the receiving end of such tricks. As it turned out, I went and had a wonderful time! And I didn’t even get pranked!
Are your kids going to camp for the first time this year? Here are a few tips that may help enjoy this new experience.
1.Talk to them about all the positive things they will experience and the friends they’ll make.
2. If they have a special toy or blanket, let them take it no matter how old they are. It will provide comfort on those nights away from home.
3. Buy the items on the camp list together. You know, all those cool camp things like flashlights, sleeping bags, snacks for the trip, and such.
4. Send along in their suitcase a note or small present for them to open each day they’re away. This makes them feel they’re not so far away and also helps them count the days until they go home.
5. If they have worries or concerns about going, hear them out. Listen and respect their feelings. Are they worried about being homesick? Let them know it’s perfectly natural to miss home and that almost everyone does. Assure them they’re strong enough to get through it with God’s help and that you’ll be praying for them. Afraid of pranks? Remind them not to take themselves too seriously and to laugh freely. Remind them they can always go to their counselor if they need to.
I will never forget the look on my third grade son’s face the first time he went to church camp. He’d been looking forward to it for weeks, but then got cold feet at the last minute and begged me not to make him go. As the car he was riding in pulled out of the church parking lot, he looked at me, his hands and face pressed against the window. His eyes, wet with tears, pleaded with me to rescue him. It broke my heart! Yet I knew he would have a wonderful time. Five days later, he came home so pumped about his experience he couldn’t wait to go again. I pray your kids have amazing camp experiences this summer, too!
What have you done to make your children’s first camp experience go well? Anything you wish you’d done differently?