Getting your child ready for summer camp can be overwhelming.
There’s so much to do!
But it doesn’t have to be an exhausting experience.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have advice from an expert?
Well… meet expert Joanne and some of her camp advisors. They’ve sent tens of thousands of kids to summer camp.
That’s right, tens of thousands!
Joanne is the owner of The Camp Experts, the premiere camp advisory service worldwide. With more than forty friendly expert advisors, they have first-hand knowledge of various summer camps, programs, and overnight experiences. And their service is completely free.
19 Tips to Prepare for Summer Camp
Let’s make your child’s experience (and your’s!) even better. Here is Joanne’s professional advice.
1. Mark the Deadline
Summer camp can be expensive. You definitely want to avoid submitting forms past the due date and paying late penalty fees.
We recommend that immediately after you enroll your child, mark the due date in your calendar. Next, add the task several weeks before the deadline, otherwise, it’s easy to miss.
2. Complete Paperwork
Some summer camps request a lot of info. Completing the forms always takes longer than you realize, so allow plenty of time.
Make sure to complete and submit everything in the registration packet. You want the drop-off to go smoothly without any drama from missing forms.
3. Note Key Dates and Times
We suggest that you add key dates and times to your phone’s calendar. When do you take your child to camp? What about pick up? Is there a visiting day?
Note these deadlines right away.
Here’s another trick: include the address. This way you can easily set your GPS with one click instead of frantically searching for the info.
A calm parent at drop off means a calmer child, especially with any pre-camp jitters.
4. Book Physical Appointment
Chances are that your child needs a medical check-up and the doctor needs to complete a form. Book the appointment early since you won’t be the only one contacting the doctor.
5. Understand the Rules
Read the camp’s policies to know what’s okay to bring and what you need to leave behind.
Which leads me to the next important point…
Leave the electronics at home. Summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for your child to meet friends the old fashioned way—in person.
Kids love their phones. So, you might want to practice unplugging days before camp starts.
7. Label Everything
Even if your child isn’t attending an overnight camp, you should label everything.
Do you really want to have your child meltdown when they lose their favorite sweatshirt or hat?
You can use iron-on labels, sharpies, and even nail polish.
Just label everything!
Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute. Even though you’ve probably packed for lots of trips, packing for camp take much longer than expected.
Check the camp’s suggested packing list. Do they have dress-up days? Do you need to buy certain items?
We recommend designating a section of the room where you can begin gathering items.
It’s a good idea to involve your child. Packing teaches self-sufficiency and gives a sense of ownership.
And when you pack, remember to leave the jewelry and valuables at home. They don’t belong at summer camp.
To make the chore of packing more playful, listen to music and create a game. Music energizes you to move faster and games make anything more fun. For ideas, check out the book Parenting—Let’s Make a Game. You’ll learn playful ways to stop struggling with your child, so you can enjoy being a parent.
9. Break in New Sneakers
Kids love shiny new sneakers but break them in before camp starts. You don’t want your child getting blisters.
10. Include Medicine
Don’t forget medicine and include all pertinent information for the counselors.
Specify allergies and food sensitivities. If your child has a severe allergy, it’s a good idea to note nearby hospitals. You probably won’t need it, but it’s like carrying an umbrella on a rainy day. It’s best to be prepared.
11. Contact the Nurse
If your child has medical needs, reach out to the nurse before camp starts to build a rapport.
12. Encourage New Experiences
Look at the camp’s website with your child to see what’s offered. Sailing? Canoeing? Acting? Yoga?
Explain that camp is a time to try new things, so don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone and experience something new.
13. Quick Drop Off
While dropping off your child can be exciting, do it quickly.
Skip the long goodbyes and dramas.
And most importantly, do not promise to come earlier if they want to come home. It’s okay to miss mom, dad, and siblings. This is part of the learning process.
14. Foster Independence
Camp is a great way for your child to be independent. Make sure they know how to do basic things.
Can they make a bed? How about folding their clothes?
Now is the time to teach these skills. You don’t want your child clueless and having to learn this at camp.
15. Practice Sleepovers
If this is your child’s first overnight camp experience, we recommend setting up sleepovers at friends’ houses. This is good practice before camp starts and minimizes separation anxiety.
16. Print Photos
Include photos of the family, friends, and pets to cheer up your child if they feel homesick.
17. Bring Favorite Items
Have your child bring a favorite stuffed animal, book, or whatever brings them comfort.
18. Bring an Extra Pair of Glasses
Order an extra pair of glasses if your child needs them to see. You can order a cheap pair online.
19. Collect Addresses
Some camps require letter writing, so provide stationary, stamps, and addresses. Your child can choose the stationary and even write the addresses directly on the envelopes.
Do you have any summer camp preparation tips? Please share in the comments below, and let’s help each other.
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An Interview with Joanne
This is part of my “Tips from the Pros” series, where I interview professionals who work with children. You’ll benefit from their years of experience as they share helpful advice.
Tell Us About Your Camp Advisors
I created The Camp Experts & Teen Summers over thirty years ago. Today, we have more than forty friendly expert advisors worldwide with first-hand knowledge of the various camps, programs, and overnight summer experiences in, around, and outside your area. Each expert advisor has traveled, interviewed, inspected, and have gotten to know all the camps and programs they recommend.
We are happy to address your camp or program criteria, your child’s interests, and any of your family’s concerns.
How Do You Work with Families?
Our Camp Advisors pride ourselves on being responsive and communicative. We’re parents, too, so we understand that when it comes to your children.
You want to speak to an actual person to help you with such an important decision.
You will work one-on-one with a Camp Expert advisor to help find the right summer experience for your child.
Our team use the important information gathered from your initial consultation to create a customized list of camps and/or teen programs that match your child’s needs and interests.
We work with you throughout the process – learning about your child’s needs, present options/choices that meet your needs, introduce you to the camp or teen program directors, if desired arrange a personal visit in the comfort of your home, plan a tour of the camps while they are in session, help you arrive at a final choice using their vast understanding of each of the camps/programs we have recommended.
We’re here to help simplify the summer camp process.
Photos courtesy of The Camp Experts.