Are you considering day camp or sleepaway camp for your kids? When your children enter elementary school, they will start hearing about their friends going to summer camp and beg you to let them go, too. Depending on their age, though, you might not be sure if they are ready for day camp or overnight camp. As you weigh the situation, here are some things to keep in mind.
If your child has never stayed away from home with friends or relatives before, it might be best to start with a day camp like Galileo Learning. That way they can get a base experience of what it’s like to be at camp without feeling the stress of what comes with staying overnight. Kids don’t know exactly what to expect from an overnight experience when parents are there, and camp counselors don’t know each child well enough to predict how they will behave during the night. For example, a child who often gets up to use the bathroom might feel scared or unsure about using a camp bathroom at night, especially if it is outside the cabin. Previous overnight experience may have helped your children learn how to navigate a new environment or ask for help when needed.
While safety is a concern for all kids at camp, consider your child’s particular needs. Does he sleepwalk at night? Does she need a night light to help her sleep? Younger children may find it more difficult to express needs like this to a camp counselor. Even if you explain the situation upfront, a counselor might forget, and your child could feel unsure about what to do.
Children who are naturally inquisitive or adventurous may find overnight camp comfortable and interesting. Kids who are more uncertain about things or who require significant reassurance might not be fully relaxed at night in a sleepaway camp. If your child doesn’t know other campers who will be going the same week, that could impact the child’s confidence in finding a niche among unknown campers. Alternately, a curious child who likes meeting people and making new friends might immediately feel comfortable at camp and be eager to participate in the overnight activities.
Kids of all ages can get homesick at summer camp, but some experience it more intensely than others. Homesickness can come on unexpectedly and cause a child to pine for home. Some may become fearful or anxious, requiring a phone call home to hear your comforting voice. If your child is prone to getting homesick, overnight camp might need to wait another year or two.
Day Camp or Sleepover Camp?
Find out what the sleepaway camp’s nightly schedule is like to decide if your child is ready. Discuss it with your child to determine their level of readiness. They can always register for overnight camp next year if they are not quite ready to be away from home 24/7 for a week.