COPING AT CAMP

Give your kids an awesome experience at camp.

Over the years, American Camp Association (ACA) camps have helped many parents and campers cope with an away-from-home camp experience.

ACA and Dr. Muchnick, a psychologist who works extensively with summer camp staffs, provided the following coping tips to consider before your child leaves for camp:

  • If possible, visit the camp ahead of time so that your child will be familiar with the cabins and other general surroundings.
  • Consider arranging for a first-time camper to attend with a close friend, relative, or camp "buddy."
  • Do not tell your child in advance that you will "rescue" him/her from camp if he/she doesn't like it.
  • Discuss what camp will be like well before your child leaves, acknowledging feelings; consider role-playing anticipated camp situations such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
  • Send a letter to your child before camp begins so he/she will have a letter waiting for his/her arrival.
  • Allow your child to pack a favorite stuffed animal and/or picture so that your child will have a reminder of home.
  • If adjustment problems (such as homesickness) do occur while your child is at camp:
    • Talk candidly with one of the camp directors to obtain his/her perception of your child's adjustment.¬†
    • Resist the temptation to "rescue" your son or daugher from this experience. Acknowledge your child's feelings and communicate your love. You might say, "If you still feel this way in two days, we'll discuss what we can do."
    • Support your child's efforts to work out the problems with the help of the camp staff.
    • Remind him/her, if necessary, that he/she has made a commitment. ¬†Trust your instincts.
    • Occasionaly a child who is truly not enjoying anything, having a miserabletime and not adjusting to camp life at all should be allowed to return home after a reasonable amount of time and effort.