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Tips for preparing children for summer camp


Group of kids hiking in the woodsThe arrival of summer means time for vacations and camp for some children and families. There is a lot of preparation required for parents to get their kids ready for summer camp.



According to Velynda Cameron, 4-H youth development specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, homesickness remains a major cause of unhappy children at summer camps. The good news is that it can be prevented by preparing the child ahead of time.


If the child is young, or if this will be the first away-from-home experience, it is important to arrange for some sleepovers at the homes of friends or relatives first. If the child has difficulty with separation, it may be a good idea to start with a few hours away and gradually build up to an overnight visit.


What to take

Another important thing to be addressed before camp starts is the required health forms, which are needed in case of an emergency. You may need to schedule a doctor’s appointment or physical exam in order to complete the necessary paperwork.


To help determine what items to send with your child, Cameron says that camp directors will usually send a letter with a list of things to take and not to take.


“You can be assured that the weather will be hot, cold, wet, dry and sometimes all of that during the same day. The child needs to be prepared, but at the same time, don’t send every item of clothing the child has — most camps have limited storage space,” said Cameron.


It is also a good idea to label everything you want the child to bring back home. Usually the most expensive item is the one that is more likely to be left at camp, said Cameron.


As far as food is concerned, Cameron says most camps try to have balanced meals that include nutritious snacks. However, if the child has special dietary needs, be sure to discuss this with the camp staff in advance.


“The child doesn’t need to take a year’s supply of junk food. The squirrels, raccoons and other forest varmints try to find ways into the cabin or tent to get to the stash,” she said.


When planning how much money to give your child for camp, the key is to not send more than is necessary. Before leaving home, discuss with the child some ways to keep money secure and use the camp director as a resource for information and suggestions, said Cameron.


Legitimate camp staffs are trained to provide a safe, fun and educational experience for the child.


“Be sure to encourage children to take an active part in the camp program and to obey the camp rules,” Cameron said.


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Last Updated 06/05/2017