Welcome back to all of our new camper families. It is another week of our New Camper Blog series, and we are so excited about our topic today: practicing for camp even before you arrive.
For many of our new campers, this will be their very first experience with sleep away camp. It’s exciting, but often pushes girls to do things they have never done before or to try things they have never tried before. That is the beauty of camp, and one of the true benefits! As the parent, we encourage you to speak positively about camp and the opportunities that are coming. Even if you are nervous (as the parent!), still speak confidence to your daughter! It will go a long way.
One of the best places to start as you prepare mentally and emotionally for the summer is with our Preparing for Camp page. We have a great list of things you can work on as a family before the summer. Even if your daughter can’t quite do all of these things, that is okay! That is the point of camp; we will work with her and help her to improve on these skills. But, starting now is helpful and will give your daughter a head start on the summer.
So as you’re thinking about your first summer, and preparing your daughter for a new experience, try out a “Get Ready for Camp Day” at home. As you’re reading suggestions on our Preparing for Camp page page, put some ideas into practice (suggestions below!) so your daughter knows what it will be like during the summer!
Want to start with our wake-up bugle Reveille? Do it! You can play it as a way to get the morning started in a fun way. Then, have your daughter get herself ready in the morning. You can make her a written list to follow or remind her (as her counselor will do), but the gist is that she needs to get dressed, make her bed, brush her teeth and hair, and clean up her space. Practice these things on your Get Ready for Camp Day so that she’s working on these skills already.
At camp, we have a job wheel in each cabin, and each camper has a job that she will do in the morning and at night. It helps when everyone pitches in to keep the cabin clean. While you don’t need to create a job wheel, assign your daughter a task to help around the house that day. She can take out the trash in her room, set the table at breakfast and dinner, wipe down the counters in her bathroom, or even sweep under the table after the meal. Let her know that when she lives together with other campers this summer, she will be helping in much the same way.
This is one of those big ones that girls don’t typically practice before they come to camp – getting their stuff together for the day. How many of you typically pack your daughter’s bags for the day? (Guilty as charged over here!) Have your daughter practice on your Get Ready for Camp Day. Going to the pool? Let her know where you are going and ask her to grab what she needs. Heading out to school? Have her put her books, jacket, homework, and lunchbox in her bag for the day. Practicing this helps quite a bit!
After lunch each day, girls will enjoy Rest Hour, or “Golden Hour” as we call it at camp. Each camper will sit on her bed and need to be quiet during that hour. Some girls will sleep (especially as the summer days pass by) while other girls will write letters home. We have a great list of Rest Hour activities that we recommend; anything that is quiet works! Have your daughter practice going to the bathroom before your Rest Hour at home, and then staying on her bed for the hour, enjoying quiet activities. This can be hard for some girls, and we will work with your daughter at camp, but practicing before will give her the sense of what to expect.
Letter writing is a long-lost art form these days, but at camp, it is how girls communicate. Many campers have never written a letter home and have no idea how to address an envelope or where to put a stamp (we see some VERY interesting letters come through our mailroom at camp!). While pre-addressing envelopes may be the way to go, have your daughter practice writing a letter on your Get Ready for Camp Day.
We have the BEST food at camp, but for some girls, figuring out the food can take some time, especially if your daughter is picky. However, it’s not challenging! Practicing before can be so helpful.
Here’s a scenario of something you can try out. On the first night of camp, we always serve spaghetti with meat sauce and usually have green beans and fresh bread. If your daughter doesn’t like meat sauce (or is a vegetarian, or is a picky eater, or is gluten-free), she’s going to want to speak up for herself so that we can help her find food. We have TONS of food at camp and so many options to meet any of these scenarios but have your daughter practice speaking up. So, on your Get Ready for Camp Day, have your camper practice saying, “I’m a vegetarian; where do I find the veggie sauce?” or “I can’t eat gluten; do you guys have gluten-free noodles or bread?” or “I don’t like sauce; can I have just plain noodles?” YES to all of these scenarios, but help your daughter learn how to ask for herself on your Get Ready for Camp Day!
One great thing to try is a sleep over with a friend or family member before the summer. Many girls have never slept away from home before they come to camp! Have they practiced going to sleep in a new place without parents nearby? It’s a great skill to practice on your Get Ready for Camp Day (and can even provide parents with a fun night off…hopefully!).
After practicing these skills, your camper is going to be even more prepared for camp! Keep working on any of these skills that aren’t coming as easily, and we will work on them when she arrives. She will be ready for the summer in no time! If you have any questions, just reach out and let us know. We are happy to provide even more pointers before your first summer.
We will see you next week for another week of our New Camper Blog series!