Here is a checklist you might want to consider before choosing and signing up for camp.
IS YOUR CHILD REALLY READY FOR OVERNIGHT 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Ask the camp for references from REAL families. Follow through by calling them up and asking specific questions about:
- the camp
- handling allergies
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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