Summer camp is one of the most memorable experiences you could provide your child. As much as we may want to deny it, they’re getting older and their opportunities to attend camp are decreasing. No matter their age or previous camp experience, we want to make their—and your—experience as enjoyable as possible. The more prepared you and your child are, the more they’ll learn and the better they’ll return home when it’s over.
Summer camp is one thing, but summer away camps are an experience all their own. Since there’s no daily pickup and dropoff, your child spends all of their time at camp and can be completely immersed in the camp experience. They learn and develop new skills and make friendships that will last a lifetime.
Camp Jeanne d’Arc (CJDA) gives campers a unique summer away that helps them grow in confidence and develop skills that will prove useful throughout their life. As parents, you can feel confident having your child spend summer somewhere they will be safe and happy, while you get some much needed “you” time.
Decide early whether or not you will send your child to camp. This can be a tough decision to make, considering the amount of preparation that is required. However, making this decision as early as possible will save you from the stress of last-minute planning and expenses.
Decide on the type of camp that will be most beneficial to your child. There are a variety of camp types (theater, dance, sports, painting, religion, gender-specific, etc.) and your child is sure to prefer one over another. If they spend time doing things that align with their interests, they’re more likely to have an enjoyable experience. At the same time, sending them to a camp that will offer new experiences will help them step out of their comfort zone and learn new skills.
Prepare financially ahead of time. Summer camp can be expensive, but is an investment in your child’s future, as it teaches them skills that they will use for the rest of their life. Find out if your desired summer away camp offers payment options, discounts, or payment plans that would be helpful to you. If you start planning early, you can have your kids save money throughout the year that you can put towards their summer away.
Learn about camp safety and accessibility. Learn about the safety precautions the camp has in place so you can have peace of mind while your child is away. Most importantly, prepare your child for safety. Find out how often camp counselors remind them to apply sunscreen, report your child’s special needs to the camp, if any, and inquire about wheelchair accessibility, if necessary.
Be sure they can swim if swimming is a camp activity. Camp Jeanne d’Arc’s waterfront activities are taught and supervised by certified Red Cross instructors and lifeguards. For campers who can’t swim, lessons are also offered.
Remind your child that going to camp is in their best interest. Maybe they’ll feel homesick or maybe they’ll be happy to get away from their parents for a while. However they feel, we guarantee when they return home, camp will be the only thing they’ll talk about.
Find a camp that your child can return to year after year. It can be tempting to give them a different experience every year, but with summer away camps like CJDA, they get a varied and improved experience as they return to their camp family of old friends and camp counselors. CJDA encourages young campers to join so they can experience this growth with their peers. Your child will enjoy the fun activities they have grown to love, but will also have opportunities to make new friends, attend new field trips, learn new dances, and do more that will keep things fresh and exciting.
Help your child pack smart. Keep the essentials in mind. They should take appropriate clothes for the activities they plan to participate in, sunscreen, and any important medication. Toys should be kept to a minimum and valuables should remain at home.
Get them accustomed to staying away from home. If they’ve never spent a night away, have them do a sleepover at a friend’s house or a few nights with grandma and grandpa. They’ll feel more comfortable and prepared when they spend a longer period away at camp. And if it’s their first time at a summer away camp, they can opt for a shorter stay.
Just sign your child up for something that you want them to do. Talk with them about what they might be most interested in. If they have no interest in basketball, a basketball camp may not be the best fit for them. Summer away camps like Camp Jeanne d’Arc offer a variety of activities so your child gets to experience a little bit of everything.
Fill your child’s summer with just camps. Camp is fun, but they will likely want to relax for some of their time off so they can get a good refresh before school starts again. If they’re missing the camp experience, a backyard sleepover with some friends should tide them over until next year.
Let your child’s friends influence their camp decision. Your child may want to take a familiar face with them to camp. However, you should choose the best camp experience for them and decide later if their friends can make it. There’s no reason to worry if they don’t know anyone at camp. They will make friends during their time away and will see their old friends when they return home.
Constantly try to contact your camper. It makes it hard for them to engage completely in the experience if they’re distracted. Most camps have a no-phone policy, so don’t encourage your child to smuggle in phones and other communication devices as this sets an example of breaking the rules. At CJDA, parents can read their campers’ letters and see photos of their activities regularly. And if anything goes wrong, counselors will contact you and let you know.
Encourage them to leave if they want to go home. This is one of the reasons cell phones aren’t allowed at most summer away camps. If your child contacts you to pick them up, you can hinder their growth and independence by enabling a “quitter” mentality. Rather, encourage them to socialize and step out of their comfort zone. In addition, they can pack a family photo or something else from home if it helps them feel comfortable and talk with a counselor if they feel homesick.
Pack valuables. Your child will have no need for money, jewelry, or electronics during their time away. There will be plenty of activities that will keep them busy and active with no need for anything but the essentials.
A Summer to Remember
Summer away camps can be nerve-racking for the parents and the child alike. Research and prepare beforehand to keep the experience as stress-free as possible for you, your child, and camp counselors. Help them follow the rules and encourage them to enjoy their time away. We have put everything in place to ensure they are safe and having fun their entire stay. As you and your child prepare for camp with this guide, they’ll be more than ready to have the experience of a lifetime.