When will I know my child is ready for overnight camp?

So much goes through parents’ minds when they consider a sleepover camp for their kids. While it’s different for every child, the first question we ask parents is: you guys ready for your child to go to camp? Our children know us; if we are showing signs of anxiety or reluctance to send them away, they might notice. assuming you guys are ready to go, here are some questions that will help your family make the right decision.

Who brought the idea?

Has your child asked about this, possibly because he has friends or older siblings who go to camp? Or did the idea come from you, and if so, how did they react? It is completely normal for children
hesitate to attend a sleepover camp. Allow time for the idea to be worked out with them and include them in the decision-making process.

Can your child follow directions?

Camp is full of opportunities to learn new things, make new friends and experience a new level of independence. At camp, we live as a community and setting boundaries with established rules helps everyone make the most of their time with us. Many times throughout the day, campers are given instructions that will set them up for success; having the ability to follow these instructions is important.

How are they taking care of their personal hygiene?
At camp, campers will be required to take care of their bodies. Can your camper brush their own teeth? Shower alone? We train our staff to support your campers in these endeavours, and provide reminders when it’s time to get these important tasks done. Camp is a great place for campers to master some of those skills they’re just starting to learn. If your camper can shower on her own but needs help adjusting the water temperature or sometimes uses too much shampoo, she’s ready to camp!

Some suggestions:

It is highly recommended that you do not place too much emphasis on whether your child has managed to sleep in places other than home. Camp is not a sleepover at a friend or relative’s house. Our children, when they go on these outings, have no space that is specifically theirs; they are visitors in someone else’s home. At camp, everyone is in the same position: everyone has the same kind of bed, everyone is away from their parents, and everyone has the same space. Camp is the great equalizer. We’ve seen campers thrive in the camp environment, even when they didn’t thrive at sleepovers at home.

We also recommend not putting on too much weight if they are the oldest/middle/youngest children in the family. Each child gets ready for camp when it’s right for them. Just because your older brother went to camp at age 7 doesn’t mean everyone in the family will be ready at the same age. At Emma Kaufmann Camp, we treat each child as the unique and special person they are, and we encourage you to assess your own abilities.

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Finally, children are incredibly adaptable and sometimes we underestimate what they are capable of since we’ve been caring for them our entire lives.PJC

Aaron Cantor is director of the Emma Kaufmann Camp, a program at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh.

When will I know my child is ready for overnight camp?

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