A B C's of Early Camp Registration

Before you rush to sign your child up for Summer Camp, be sure that she's ready to go. Some kids experience separation anxiety, as well as other challenges, by just thinking about being away from home for two weeks.

Here is a checklist you might want to consider before choosing and signing up for camp.


A. If your child is rather reserved and doesn't even really like to sleep away from home, overnight camp may not be such a good idea. Anxious children often have extreme anxiety, worrying about the worst thing that could happen. This is in direct correlation with separation anxiety which can continue until the age of 12.
  • If your child seems anxious, ask what her biggest fear is and see if she will talk with you about it. If she clams up, maybe she'll feel more comfortable talking with a grandparent or someone else she really enjoys.
  • If she's not sure why she is fearful of overnight camp, grab her favorite stuffed pals and role play. One stuffed animal could be you and the other her. They could talk to each other using kid language where she may feel more comfortable rather than answering direct questions from a parent.
  • When you do get a better idea of her apprehensions, don't go over board in trying to fix everything at once. Try to figure out the one thing that seems to frighten her the most and move forward from there.
B. Go visit the camp now. Believe it or not, there will be activities held at many of the camps that you are considering for the summer during the winter months that. Call and ask if your family can visit.
  • If you have a chance to visit the camp early enough for a least two to three visits, this might be all she needs to feel more comfortable about it.
  • Try to make sure that the Camp Director will be on hand for tours and sit-down questions. Once your child learns the name of this person, she will feel much more connected to a "person" at the camp.
C. Take along and sign up a friend.
  • Ask if she would like to invite a friend to be her roommate at camp. Going with a best friend can always make any situation feel less threatening.
  • Should she ask a friend to go along, be sure it's someone she gets along with pretty well. The last thing you need is to get a phone call in the middle of the night from an upset child pleading for you to come pick her up due to a fight with "Laruen."
D. Ask for references and call them!
  • Ask the camp for references from REAL families. Follow through by calling them up and asking specific questions about:
    • the camp
    • food
    • discipline
    • entertainment
    • activities
    • counselors
    • handling allergies
    • sickness
and anything else you can think of that might affect her stay.

E. Clear up questions now on "handbook" rules for potential adverse situations.
  • What do they have on hand for sore throat?
  • How do they handle mosquito bites?
  • How can sunburn be prevented?
  • If your child gets a fever, what can they legally offer her?
  • Ask what you can send with her to possibly prevent or help with some of the above.
F. If all goes well sign up!
  • If all seems to be going pretty well, go ahead and register early.
  • Ask about refund policies just in case something comes up and she can't make the session.
  • Ask about the rules regarding transferring to another earlier or later session.
  • Ask about credits that can be applied to a later session if the refund time runs out.
G. Just forget it!
  • No matter what you do, some kids are just too anxious about life in general to sleep away from home. The sooner you accept this the better off she'll be and you too.
  • Many kids are homebodies. If at the last minute she balks, don't force her to go. It's not worth it. She's just not ready.
It might be that the amount of days the camp lasts for is too long and she freaks out each time she thinks about it. If the camp is for two weeks, cut it back to one. If she is literally losing sleep over the idea, why make her go? Cancel the reservation and get your money back. Instead of overnight camp, enroll her in a day camp program where she comes home everyday and try again later for overnight camp.

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