Some of my fondest memories from childhood are those spent camping. When I was young, we spent nearly every summer weekend camping at the lake, swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing and just hanging out as a family. As a Girl Scout, I also had the opportunity to go to Girl Scout camp, which I loved so much. I remember days sitting in the shade trying to ignore the heat as we sang campfire songs, made arts and crafts, and went on nature walks. When I was in middle school, I experienced a new type of camp: church camp. We spent our mornings in Bible study and our afternoons outside, playing games or swimming.
All of these camping experiences shared common traits: the opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature, learn new skills, and develop camaraderie with new friends. When I had my children, I looked forward to the day they would enjoy these same experiences. This summer, my 9-year-old daughter got to do just that. She attended her first-ever Girl Scout camp and her first-ever church camp. In my excitement for her, I never thought about all the things we had to do to get her ready for summer camp. As it turns out, there’s a lot to do.
In addition to packing all her clothes (making sure to label EVERYTHING), I also made sure she had her toiletries, insect repellent spray, sunscreen, lip balm with SPF and sunglasses, as well as a flashlight and extra batteries.
We were a bit hesitant about how she would respond to being away from home for the week, especially given we wouldn’t be allowed to call or email one another (unless in an emergency). Therefore, before she headed to camp, I followed some great tips from MinuteClinic for getting our child ready for summer camp. These tips included:
Stay in Touch
Both camps allowed us to send our daughter “mail,” so my husband, son and I all wrote note cards to my daughter, and the camp staff delivered them to her each day of her stay. We also provided her with note cards and self-addressed, stamped envelopes so she could write home to us.
Talk to Your Child
Let your children know it’s OK to be worried, a little nervous or to miss home at first. Be encouraging and remind them that this will be an adventure, and home will be there when they return. We reassured our daughter that she would be with people she knew, and she could always go to them when she felt anxious.
If they’re ever feeling homesick, a trinket from home can be comforting, whether it’s a photo, blanket, stuffed animal or their favorite toy. We sent our daughter off with one of her favorite Pillow Pets, her Girl Scout bear from Build-A-Bear and her favorite blanket she’s had since she was born, so she could snuggle with them every night.
Have Them Log Their Trip
Encourage your children to preserve camp memories. Disposable cameras and journals are great mediums for them to share their experiences with friends and family and to relive their adventure. My daughter took a journal to Girl Scout camp and two disposable cameras to church camp. She loved having these items with her.
When my daughter returned from camp, we were thrilled to hear that she loved every minute of her camp experiences and is already looking forward to going again next year. And we were very thankful she didn’t bring home any unwanted mementos – bug bites or stings, sunburn, or a rash from poison ivy or oak. If she had, I knew I could seek help at MinuteClinic, where she would receive a thorough assessment and proper medical care. All in all, I think it was a very successful start to, hopefully, many more years of summer camp.
Do you have a child heading to summer camp? I’d love to hear where they’re going and how you are getting them ready for summer camp!
Disclosure: MinuteClinic sponsored this post by Karon, but, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author.