“Is my child ready for sleepaway camp?”
We hear this question a lot, and over the years we have found there are several key questions that can help you decide whether or not your child is ready for sleepaway camp. Once you consider these factors, you’ll know the right time to register your child!
Is My Child Old Enough?
Children start to show they are ready for sleepaway camp between 6 and 8 years old, or when they are entering first grade. At this age, children become more independent, and it is easier for them to spend a few nights away from their parents. By enrolling them in a sleepaway camp at this time, you can nurture that independence along with many other life skills your child will learn.
What Are Some Signs My Child Is Ready?
First, if your child is asking YOU to go to sleep away camp for the summer, then they are most definitely ready! Additionally, if your child is regularly having sleepovers at a friend’s or family member’s house and loving it, they are probably ready for summer camp. If they haven’t had a sleepover yet, try to arrange one with a friend and see how they do. Chances are highly likely if they are comfortable being away for one night, they will do a great job at camp throughout the summer.
How Long Should My Child Go To Camp For?
For first-time campers entering 1st and 2nd grade, we find that spending 2 nights at camp gives the perfect opportunity for them to get a taste of what sleepaway camp is like without allowing enough time for homesickness to set in. As your child matures in age and behavior, they can stay away for much longer. CYJ offers a 9-day session for campers going into 2nd and 3rd grade. As soon as your child is going into 3rd grade, they can stay for a full 3 weeks. This may sound like a long time, but we’ve found that “parentsickness” becomes more common than children experiencing homesickness.
What Can I Do To Prepare My Child?
Once your child is old enough to begin sleepaway camp and you’ve registered them for the appropriate session, it’s time to start preparing them for their home away from home! Start by scheduling a few sleepovers for your child at a friend’s or family member’s house. Create a list of things your child we need to do without help while at camp such as showering, doing their hair, picking out their clothes, etc. Encourage your child to begin doing these things now on their own (if they are not doing so already). You can also start talking about what camp will be like, such as where they will sleep and eat. Your child may want to bring a few things from home such as a special pillow, stuffed animal or picture frame to help them decorate their new camp home as well.
The first time your child goes to sleepaway camp will always be scary in the beginning, but it’s essential to get your child exposed to the idea of independence, socialization, and an overall better handle of their self-esteem. Your child will learn in more ways than one and apply the skills they learned in camp at home, at school and in their community.
Have you signed up for summer camp 2019? CYJ is a ‘Jewish Playground’ where each child feels good about their strengths, respects others, and knows that together, they can do great things. Click here to register now!