Residential (overnight camps) teach life skills such as independence, team work, leadership and cooperation, as well as an appreciation for nature and the environment. Campers often develop meaningful and lifelong friendships because the camp environment is a close-knit setting and a small Christian community.
It takes preparation to get a child ready for an overnight camp. Some children (and moms) struggle with separation from their family or fitting in with their peers. Here are some advantages for sending your child to an overnight camp as well as some tips to prepare your child.
Break from screen time. Studies show that children are spending significant amounts of time in front of computers and TV. At Camp Lau-Ren, children aren’t allowed to have electronic devices, which means they are in the Ottawa River 3-4 times a day, shrieking and cheering at the top of their lungs or perhaps just having a quiet moment under a tree identifying a owl or a loon call. We all know children should be spending significant amounts of time outdoors in the summer, without access to video games and social networks, and Camp Lau-Ren enables children this opportunity.
Members of a community. At camp, kids stay in cabins with children from different regions and walks of life. They set tables together, perform daily rituals, and build deep friendships with kids they might not otherwise be friends with. Not only are they exposed to different types of people, but they also have to find ways to get along with them, and to work with them as they develop new relationships.
Safe, risk-taking opportunities. As children move toward adolescence, they want to test their limits. At camp, they can take these risks under the watchful eye of other adults, and prove themselves in positive, nurturing environments. It also means they’ll be less likely to feel the need to test themselves in more dangerous, destructive ways at home.
Resilience to homesickness. The majority of campers get homesick in their childhood. Actually it is completely normal if a child loves his or her parents and has a good home. Why wouldn’t they feel lonesome for mom, dad, Scruffy or their comfy bed? Homesickness is sometimes the beginning of resilience. When campers overcome homesickness, they start on their journey of independence, beyond the structure of their home.
HERE ARE FIVE TIPS FOR A POSITIVE CAMP EXPERIENCE.
1. Pack carefully. Have you ever felt burdened by all the clothes you packed on a vacation? If your camper is loaded with clothes and accessories at camp, they may feel overwhelmed. Campers don’t have much space for their things – a cubby, a suitcase and a bunk — so the more the clothes, the messier their area, and the less likely they will find anything. Pack layers to account for weather changes and label everything.
2. Don’t obsess. Sending your child to camp can be a bittersweet milestone of parenthood – it’s hard to let them go, but it’s also satisfying to see them becoming independent. But there is a small lens in to their camp environment. Camp Lau-Ren posts lots of pictures on Facebook, so check daily (not hourly) and take a peek into their world. Don’t obsess over the fact that your son hasn’t changed his shirt for three days, but rather cherish that big grin on his face. And don’t freak out if your child is missing from a batch of online photos. The camp photographers are capturing a day in the life at camp; they are not the school’s yearbook photographers. Rest assured, if your camper is missing from camp, you will be contacted!!! The thing to remember is, your camper is having an amazing, crazy adventure, even if there isn’t a shred of digital proof.
3. Be selfish. Why should campers have all the fun? Make the most of your free time and enjoy yourself. Don’t spend half the week missing or worrying about them — pick up a project that is best completed uninterrupted. Make grown-up plans and book a massage, go to a late movie, or just savour that quiet house.
4. Let children adjust to camp. One of the worst things you can do for your first-time camper is say, “If you don’t like camp, have them phone me and I’ll come get you.” This could sabotage their camp experience because they may focus on their way out, versus adjusting to camp life. It takes a day or two for campers to adapt but by the end of the week they are usually sobbing because they are going home too soon.
5. Embrace their growth. When your child is away at camp they will change in really important ways. They will face fears, learn to share space and discover they stepped up to many exciting new challenges. You will never get back the same child. They’re older and wiser, so let them share all their adventures with you for the rest of the summer.