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How To Help Your Child Overcome Their Summer Camp Nerves

Summer camps can be a memorable and enriching experience for children, offering them opportunities to make new friends, learn new skills, and create lasting memories. However, for many children, especially those attending for the first time, the unfamiliarity and change can feel daunting and overwhelming. As a parent, there are several steps you can take to ease your child's transition into camp and ensure they have a positive experience. In this blog, we’ll talk about some of the things you can do to help your child enjoy their summer camp experience to the fullest!

Involve Your Child in the Decision-Making Process

Before enrolling your child in a day camp, involve them in the decision-making process. Discuss the different options available and let them choose a camp that aligns with their interests and preferences. When children have a say in the matter, they are more likely to feel excited and enthusiastic about attending camp.

Visit the Camp in Advance

Take the time to visit the camp with your child before the start of the program. This will give them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the surroundings, meet the staff, and ask any questions they may have. Familiarity can help alleviate anxiety and make the first day of camp less intimidating. Depending on the camp, they may offer other activities throughout the year that your child can attend to build a stronger relationship and comfort level with the staff and potentially make some new friends who might also be attending summer camp! 

At The Police Activities League of Egg Harbor Township & Atlantic County, we offer a variety of activities like Sports Leagues, STEM Programs, and more throughout the year. If your child is nervous about attending our summer camp, they can join us before camp starts to get to know our facility, staff, and potentially make some new friends that they’ll see again at camp!

Practice Independence

Encourage your child to practice independence in the weeks leading up to camp. This could involve tasks such as packing their own bag, making their bed, or spending time away from home with friends or relatives. Developing independence skills will boost your child's confidence and make them feel more capable of handling new experiences. If your child isn’t used to doing any activities without you, introducing them slowly before camp will help them feel less overwhelmed and scared on their first day. 

Discuss Expectations

Have a conversation with your child about what to expect at camp, including daily routines, activities, and rules. Talk about how they can approach challenges or conflicts that may arise and reassure them that it's okay to ask for help when needed. Knowing what to expect can reduce anxiety and help your child feel more prepared. Reach out to the camp ahead of time and ask about the rules regarding calling home if your child needs a little reassurance and discuss them with your child.

Establish a Routine

Establishing a consistent routine can help your child feel more secure during their time at camp. If your child is starting camp right after school is finished, they’ll already be in the rhythm of a structured routine. But if there will be a gap between school and camp, try keeping up their routine of waking up on time, having a designated bedtime, and eating meals at a fairly standard time. Consistency provides structure and predictability, which can be comforting for children in a new environment.

Stay Positive and Supportive

As a parent, your attitude towards camp can greatly influence your child's experience. Stay positive and enthusiastic about their upcoming adventure, and reassure them that you believe in their ability to have a great time. Be supportive and empathetic if they express concerns or fears, and remind them that it's normal to feel nervous in new situations. If you also attended summer camp as a child or a counselor, share your experiences with your child!

Stay Connected

If your summer camp allows cell phones and your child is old enough for one, make sure you’re close to your phone for the first few days in case they need words of encouragement over call or text. You can also stay connected without phones by including notes in their lunch box and bag to remind them you’re thinking of them. You can also pick out something like a bracelet, necklace, or shoe charm together to remind your child that you’re with them throughout the day!

Celebrate Their Achievements

Finally, celebrate your child's achievements and milestones throughout their time at camp. Whether they conquer their fear of heights on the ropes course or make a new friend during arts and crafts, acknowledge their accomplishments and let them know how proud you are of them. Positive reinforcement will boost their confidence and encourage them to continue trying new things.

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