By Sarah Hall
Camp is a place full of excitement, discoveries, and endless possibilities. And, as exciting an endeavor as camp can be, for a child with or without a disability, leaving home to go to camp can be traumatic. Feelings of anxiety and fear are normal for all kids to experience, especially if this is the first time away from home and family.
Preparing your child for camp is a key step in ensuring that your child has a successful summer camp experience. So, how do you prepare your child for camp? Below are a few ways to help your child feel prepared for their camping experience!
· Leaving home can be scary! Sit down with your child and discuss any fears and concerns that he might be having. Share your confidence in his ability to handle being away from home.
· It's okay to miss home! Assure your child that it is normal to feel homesick at times. By packing a few stamped envelopes in her suitcase, you are giving her the means to communicate with you. Encourage her to write a letter if she is feeling lonely. And, also let her know how excited you'll be to receive a letter.
· Communicate while away! If the camp allows, schedule a couple times during the week when your child can call home. By talking on the phone to loved ones, his homesickness just might ease.
· Camp provides a variety of activities! Share with your child all the new activities and skills that they might take part in. Be sure to let your child know what her camp has to offer.
· Have realistic expectations! Let your child know that camp is no different than the rest of life in that, there will be highs and lows. Not every moment or activity will be exciting and thrilling. Help your child to think realistically about his expectations.
· Prepare for camp together! Work with your child to pack for camp. Working together may help her to feel more prepared for going to camp. Being prepared will help your child's anxiety to decrease, and most likely help her to feel ready to take on this new experience.
As difficult as it is for kids to go to camp, it also can be tough on parents. It's hard to watch your child leave home, especially if this is the first time. But, remember, there are numerous benefits for kids, both with and without disabilities.
Often times, being at camp helps kids to become more independent and even build confidence in themselves. Kids also have a great opportunity to interact with others and even make some friends. Lastly, keep in mind that your child will take part in some new activities that only camps offer. What a great opportunity!
Although the thought of going away may be scary for kids (and parent, alike), it just might be the experience of a lifetime. Wishing you and your child a wonderful experience this summer!