Mom Blog: Things to Know as a New Camp Parent - New Camper Blog Series
Hi everyone! My name is Katie, and I am a current mom of a Junior Camper. Last summer we experienced something I had planned from the day our daughter was born: her first day at Greystone. As a toddler, I sang her every Greystone song imaginable and bought her cute “little kid” Greystone shirts. Since my mom attends a conference each summer a few miles from camp, once our daughter was old enough, I always took her on a tour when we were nearby. Then, lo and behold, she was finally old enough to go to camp and was ready!
As a former camper and counselor, there were definitely some things we did right because of my memories of camp, but there are also some opportunities for improvement this year. Overall camp was absolutely amazing for our daughter. Here are some takeaways we had from our first summer that really helped her get off to a great start!
Get excited about camp! Read the blog together (this was often our 20 minutes of reading for the day!), watch the videos online, and talk about how much fun she will have. JimDaddy (the Director when I was a camper) used to say “we have everything to look forward to and nothing to dread”- and that really is true at camp! If you approach camp with a great attitude, your daughter will catch on and get excited, too! (And, if you are nervous or have concerns, call camp! They will happily answer your questions or address your concerns.) Your great attitude will help give your daughter the freedom to have a GREAT day every day when she is at Greystone!
Write her Penpal on the day her name arrives, and once they’ve written back and forth, maybe arrange a FaceTime date. It doesn’t have to take long, but that familiar face for new campers can be invaluable. This is another way to have a great social attitude toward camp.
Let her help you pack and find things for camp, and pack with unpacking in mind; it gives her ownership in the process and makes the “move in” process much easier and more fun.
For younger campers, work together to pre-address some cards to family and/or friends. I had read this on an earlier blog post, and it was a fantastic idea!
Especially if she is a younger camper, remind her that her counselor is her “mom” in the cabin. If she is embarrassed, needs advice, has a problem, or just needs a big hug, her sweet counselor will love being there for her!
Prep her for how to make friends and be a good friend. Greystone is a safe place for her to be herself, and here again, attitude is absolutely key. If she is shy, practice saying, “Hi, my name is ____. What’s your name? It’s great to meet you!” Making new friendships at Greystone is the best - I know she will love it!
It sounds a little silly, but remind her to jump into pictures if she sees a camera; you’ll want to see that sweet face having a BLAST each day!
On Opening Day:
Don’t worry if everything isn’t completely done when you leave. Get the big stuff done with her, but if it isn’t all completely perfect, she’ll work on it with her counselor! The wonderful thing about camp is that it is a safe place for our girls to be independent.
Prep ahead of time for the letters that will be delivered to her. You can drop pre-written letters for her at the Hostess Cabin, and I didn’t pre-write them last year. I ended up frantically writing postcards on the Hostess Cabin porch, when it would have been much less stress to write them at home and simply dump them in bins. This year, I’ll be prepared!
Finally, when the time comes, say goodbye quickly; I know it seems crazy. Don’t worry about what other moms and dads are doing. Say goodbye, give her a big hug, and let her know you are proud of her and want her to have the best summer ever. Then you need to go. It will be easier and less painful if you do. Don’t go back “one last time”. This is another opportunity to show your daughter that you are excited she has the privilege of going to Greystone and that you trust her and the camp. Your attitude will leave a lasting impression. (And try not worry too much on that first day: camp has so many wonderful things planned that it will be less stressful for her if she can completely immerse herself in the experience!)
She will love it, and it will truly be a GREAT day every day at Greystone this summer!!