Hello new camper families! Welcome back as we delve into another topic specifically geared to our new families. If you’re just joining us, make sure to catch up on all of our past topics so that you can be “in the know” before the summer.
This week, we are looking at how you can prepare your daughter, right now, for camp! This has been a crazy year, hasn’t it? For some of your children, they have been in school full time and life may feel relatively normal these days. For others, this will be the most social interaction your daughter has had in over a year. No matter how this year has been for your daughter, there are several things you can do right now to prepare her for the summer:
How many of you are still brushing your daughter’s teeth? Or helping her take a shower? For some parents, you passed off these nighttime rituals years ago, but for others, these are things you are still doing to help your daughter at night. Practice these “going to bed” routines with your daughter, if she is not doing them independently: brushing teeth, turning on the shower water, washing hair and body, picking out pajamas and cleaning up dirty clothes, brushing her hair after a shower, and more. Have some “practice camp nights” where she does all of these things herself, without you stepping in, so she knows what to do at camp.
It’s very unlikely that your daughter is used to sleeping with 8 other girls in her room each night. For the campers, it’s one of the most exciting parts of camp (it feels like the best kind of sleepover), but it takes some getting used to in the beginning. Before your daughter comes to camp, make sure you do things like sleeping without a noisemaker. If your daughter is used to jumping into bed with you, help her know that she won’t have that option at camp, and instead, give her some alternatives she can try when at camp (like, hugging her stuffed animal if she needs that extra hug or playing a movie in her head until she goes to sleep). Most campers are so tired by the end of our fun-filled days that sleep isn’t a problem, but talking about sleep ahead of time is always helpful.
In the same vein as getting ready for bed, your daughter will need to get herself ready for the day on her own. I bet many of you help pack your daughter’s bag in the morning (guilty as charged over here!) and have most of her things laid out and ready for the day. At camp, your daughter will need to pack her own bag, decide herself what she will wear, and be able to clean up her space each day. So practice at home! Let your daughter make her own bed and pick out her own clothes (tell her where she is going and see what shoes she has on – a great way to talk about actually thinking before putting something on!). Can she do her own hair? Our counselors can help, but they just don’t have time for elaborate braids for each camper’s hair everyday. What about putting on sunscreen herself? Why not trying to let your daughter pack her own lunch and bookbag for the day so she can practice thinking and then making decisions based on what is ahead. Anything you can simulate at home will help at camp!
I recently listened to a great webinar that was talking about child development, and one of the main things this webinar said that children have lost in this pandemic is basic social skills, like having to meet someone new and saying hello. The recommendation? Explain and then practice this with your child. Teach your child the steps of introducing herself to someone new (walk up to the other camper, make eye contact, say ‘hi’, ask her name, ask another question about the other person, etc.). We will go over these skills with all of the campers too (we talk a lot about how far a smile will go, and this year, that will be more important than ever, even if we are 6 feet apart). While all of this may seem silly, it is a valuable skill that we see many campers lacking when they arrive.
At camp, we eat the BEST food and we have a LOT of variety. Picky eaters typically do very well at camp, so that’s not really the issue. But, it is helpful to explain to your daughter about eating a full plate and drinking plenty of water (and we will talk about both of these at camp a lot!). Help her to know what to do if she doesn’t like the food (ask nicely about other options, see what she does like and eat more of those items, etc.). Explain about how you need good food-fuel at camp more than ever (due to being so active), so eating good meals with a variety of food will help.
We have a Rest Hour after lunch each day that is much needed for everyone, no matter the age. However, some of our younger girls struggle with this quiet time especially. Why not practice this at home? Your daughter can bring a slew of quiet activities to do during Rest Hour at camp, so simulate this rest time at home. After school one day, or on the weekend, set your daughter up with some quiet activities and practice having a Rest Hour. Besides going to the bathroom, she should be able to work on her activities without needing to interrupt or ask questions. While we will work on this at camp (and it is often easier to comply when everyone is doing the same thing), it is a great skill to work on at home.
This may seem like a silly one, but does your daughter know how to address an envelope? So many girls come to camp without this skill! I would recommend pre-addressing letters, so your daughter doesn’t have to worry about this, or you can work with her ahead of time so she knows what goes where on the envelope. We’ve seen campers use the stamp as a sticker or even putting it in the middle of the envelope. If you want to receive the letters your daughter writes, don’t miss this important skill before camp!
You can find even more our ideas on our Preparing for Camp page, so check those out as well. Your daughter may not be able to do all of these things yet…and that is fine! Part of the reason for this blog is to plant the ideas in your head so you can think about them now. I bet a few of these items set off a little “ding” in your head, as you know you need to work on these skills prior to camp. Start now, and your daughter will be even more prepared than ever for the summer!