Worried your child isn’t ready to head off to overnight camp? Think again! Camp Campbell’s Associate Executive Director, Stacey Otlin explains that often, parents actually struggle most when their child is away from home. Parents are left with unfamiliar free time while kids are surrounded by peers and counselors providing the experience of a lifetime.
Camp Campbell leadership veterans, Stacey and Trevor, came to chat with parents and kids about how to prepare for a week of overnight camp, and why it’s well worth it! They gave the inside scoop on all the benefits campers experience from overnight camp, and strategies to ease apprehension while leaving the nest for a week of adventure.
Prepare you and your child for overnight camp this summer with answers to questions from real parents answered by overnight camp experts!
What will my child gain from attending overnight camp?
Children and teens who attend overnight camp experience a strengthened EQ (emotional quotient) and develop the core competencies needed to form connections with others confidently. Technology is a huge element of life today, and while it brings many good things with it, kids are struggling to connect with peers in the same way as previous generations.
A technology free week at camp reintroduces campers to social cues, helping them respond appropriately to physical and facial cues, and better interpret social situations. Camp creates a culture of inclusivity and kindness that allows campers to develop these critical social skills without fear. Campers build self-confidence through connecting with others.
So my child can’t have a phone? Not even to call home?
Take notes here parents. Stacey and Trevor both have over 10 years of overnight camp experience, and both agree that children are less likely to suffer from homesickness if the parent and child begin the week prepared for the fact that they will not be communicating through technology.
In fact studies show that a call home escalates a child’s level of homesickness. So leave the cell phones at home, and let the campers immerse themselves in planned technology free activities.
Will my child be well supervised?
YMCA Camp Campbell has 60 trained staff members on hand for 250 campers, creating a 1:6 counselor to camper ratio. Your child will receive personalized attention around the clock. For many campers, the personalized attention creates an even better learning environment than school offers.
My teenager doesn’t listen to authority. Will they listen to a counselor?
Camp provides a unique learning environment. While counselors are thoroughly trained and equipped to educate and advise, they are typically between the ages of 18 and 24, making them close enough in age to retain the “cool” factor needed to be a positive role model. Unlike parents or teachers, counselors connect with campers as supervising peers. They are trained to use their influence to make kindness “cool” at camp!
What if my child gets homesick?
Homesickness happens. Fortunately, the experienced counselors are trained to help kids cope with these feelings. Counselors act as surrogate caregivers to campers, and use behavior management techniques to redirect camper’s yearning for home into excitement for the activities at hand. Connections formed with other campers, and counselors also help kids to combat feelings of homesickness.
What can I do to prevent my child from being homesick?
There are steps parents can take to set campers up for success.
First, be sure that your child feels included in the decision making process. If your child feels like they didn’t have a choice in attending camp, choosing activities, or even in what they packed, they are more likely to experience homesickness. Let your child be an active part of the decision making process, from enrollment to packing, and they will be more successful! Look through camp options and discuss them together.
Second, remember that your children feed off what you’re feeling. If you show feelings of anxiety about being separated from your child, they will feel more anxious about the impending separation themselves. If you seem nervous they won’t make friends, or will get hurt, or anything else parents worry about, be sure to keep these worries to yourself, so as not to pass them onto your children. Regardless of what you might be thinking of feeling, focus on how you want them to feel about the experience. You want them to have fun, make friends, and enjoy nature? Talk about how you are so excited for them to do those things!
Homesickness can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, so assure your camper that they will be just fine, and they will be!
Lastly, campers who have prior experience outside of their comfort zone are better equipped to adapt. Show your child that trying new things can be fun before the week of camp begins. Encourage them to step out of their comfort zone, for example, allow them to sleepover somewhere new without you for a night. Even the simplest of new experiences can demonstrate the benefits of trying new things.
How do I know my child will be safe?
YMCA Camp Campbell takes safety seriously. Full time medical professionals are on site at all times, and additional doctors and nurses are just a short drive away. The camp maintains a close relationship with local law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency responders, staying up to date on emergency protocols should something happen. Counselors and camp staff participate in weeks of training before camp is in session to keep campers safe and happy all summer long.
My child has food allergies. What will they eat?
Some of the produce served is grown and hand-picked right on camp property, from the garden or greenhouse.
YMCA Camp Campbell, like most top notch summer camp facilities, provides a variety of healthy food options to suit all dietary needs. Kid friendly meals are served family style, with accommodations in place for vegans, vegetarians, lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, nut allergies, and other dietary restrictions. Additionally, a salad bar is always available at lunch and dinner to ensure kids get plenty of produce. At breakfast, a daily fruit and yogurt bar provides campers with fuel for a full day of activities.
After parents fired off question after question to Stacey and Trevor about overnight camp, a future camper himself voiced the final question, “So when is it?”
If you also have a camper excited to sign up for overnight camp this summer, head to YMCA Camp Campbell to find the right camp for your child!