Of course there are many families who are still looking for a summer camp for their children, and yes, we still have room at Maine Arts Camp if you’re interested in a summer arts camp. However, many other families have signed up for camp and are thinking about what they need to do to get ready. Here are some tips to help you start to prepare. I’ll continue to write about getting ready for camp in my upcoming blog entries. I know it can seem overwhelming to some parents, especially when you have more than one child, and they’re going to different programs for the summer.
1) Be sure you have filled out all the paperwork the camp has sent to you, and read any parent handbooks or other instructions. Your child’s transition from home to camp will be so much easier if you are informed.
2) This paperwork will include health forms, so you’ll probably need to schedule a physical for your child at the physician’s office. Sometimes the forms accept physical exams from the last two years, so you can check to see what’s accepted by your child’s camp. You’ll also need to make sure your child has all their medications if they take any on a regular basis. Some camps might have you order them through a service such as CampMeds.com. We are using this service for the first time this summer.
3) A personal history form of some sort will probably be included in the paperwork as well. Be sure to write all the details that the camp needs to know in order to take good care of your child. Do not keep any secrets. No one is going to judge you or your child. Camp staff members are taught to respect a camper’s privacy, and they will only use this as needed, but it can make a huge difference in the quality of care your child will receive.
4) Make any travel plans that are necessary. If you’re booking a flight, check with the camp to make sure it fits into their schedule for check-in and possibly picking your child up at the airport.
5) Most camps send a packing list, so be sure to look at it early so you can shop for anything you don’t have. Include your child in the packing process so he or she can feel ownership in the process, and also so he knows what he’s brought with him. The kids who can’t find anything when they get to camp are the ones who didn’t help to pack. Let your child help put his name on his belongings in permanent marker, too.
6) Discuss the possibility of getting homesick so your child will know how to cope. Talking about it does not make it happen! Tell your child that you have confidence in her ability to get through any challenging feelings, and to have a successful camp experience. Tell her that it’s normal to feel homesick, and it’s important to find a counselor to talk to about it. You might want to pack some familiar objects like a stuffed animal (even for older kids) or photos of the family. And whatever you do, do NOT offer to pick your child up if she wants to come home!
7) Brush up on life skills so your child will feel good about taking care of herself at camp. Hopefully, you’ve already taught your children things like how to make a bed, clean up, take care of proper hygiene, respect other people’s property, accept other’s differences, help people, and be a friend. If you feel you need to brush up on any of these, it’s not too late. Here’s a great website where you can download a Life Skills Report Card to assess and work on these skills: http://lifeskillsreportcard.org.
8) When you drop your child off, say a quick goodbye, and be as upbeat as possible. Your child will pick up on your mood, and it will get her off to a good start at camp. Take advantage of this opportunity to try new things and have fun just like your child will be doing. Start making a list now of all the possibilities for your own summer adventures: relaxing, reading, biking hiking, going to museums, taking an art class, spending time with your spouse. Imagine the possibilities and go for them! It may seem hard to believe right now, but we all know it is never an endless summer.
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