When the New Year starts, so starts the parent’s search for summer camps and so follows the many questions when finding a camp. One of the most common questions is, “How do I know if my child is ready for sleep-away camp?”
I started camp when I was 9-years-old, and it truly was life changing for me. I had no idea at the time that my life’s direction would begin at that age. My parents knew I was ready for camp, so they signed me up. The ideal age for a child to start camp is completely subjective and varies from child to child. I was ready at 9-years-old; however, we have had first time campers at Wa-Klo begin at 15-years-old.
Your child may be ready for camp when he or she:
- Is asking to go to camp or asking about camp,
- Has heard exciting stories about camp either from friends or family and shows interest about camping,
- Enjoys attending sleep-overs with friends or family,
- Or shows a natural independence and curiosity about life.
These hints are somewhat overt; however, sometimes a child needs a gentle nudge in the camp direction. Start searching for a camp the moment the child asks about it, or if you think your child would benefit from the camp experience as my parents did. If parents sit down with their child and investigate camps on-line, mutual excitement and education can be discovered together. Teach your child about camps, talk about what camps might be perfect for the child, and explore together. A more specialized camp may be perfect for one child while another may enjoy the all-around experience more. Sometimes parents narrow down the camp choice, and then give their child the final decision. Sometimes a decision is reached together as a family. Sometimes parents pick the camp without the child’s input, but keep their child’s best interest at heart.
If you’re not sure if your child is ready for sleep-away camp or if the child is hesitant to go, start with a 3-5 day session length and see how that goes. However, understand that it takes a child a few days to get acclimated to the camp life, so if you choose a longer session that will give her/him time to truly be immersed into the camp environment and want to go back the following summer. The longer the stay is at camp, the deeper the connections that are made.
Any age is a good age to start camp; how quickly the child accepts his/her new surroundings depends on how the child and family prepare for the summer. Attitude is everything. With enthusiasm even the shyest kid can blossom at camp.
There’s a perfect camp out there for everyone.
Pass the Spark on…