Preparing First Time Campers

By Justin Shulman, Assistant Director

With less than 8 weeks left until camp, it won’t be long before CBB of Ottawa is in full swing with General Swim, A&C, Waterfront, and more. The lead up to camp is a busy one. It is right about now where parents start preparing or at least start thinking about the packing list, labels, and toiletries. Physically getting ready for camp gives us a sense of excitement and anticipation. Emotionally preparing ourselves and our children for camp is whole different ball game and it is vital that we set them (and us) up for success as we inch closer to camp beginning.

Keeping in mind that every child carries with them a different emotional toolkit, it is important to consider how, as parents and caregivers, we show or demonstrate our excitement, nervousness, and maybe even anxiety about sleep-away camp. One thing we know for certain is that children often feed off of, or mirror our emotions toward change or transition. As we emotionally prepare for our children to leave us for a brief period of time, it is important to consider how we reflect on our own feelings about them being away. This is where parents need to be intentional and careful in how we carry ourselves. As you know, our children are very perceptive and can clue in when something seems off.

The emotional toolkit also evolves over time as children experience various challenges.

It is just like that feeling of accomplishment after we dove off the diving board for the first time. It was hard walking up the steps, even worse when we got to the edge, but something inside challenged us to take that leap. The development of the emotional toolkit heavy relies on our children’s ability to be resilient in the face of adversity. With our first time and new campers, we can support this by reassuring them that everything will be ok and that there is always someone to talk to if needed. Some new campers may even appreciate coming up to camp to check out the place. Most importantly, parents should complete ‘A letter to my Counselor’ (found in your CampInTouch account) prior to coming to camp.

These are just a few things to consider when preparing our children for summer camp for the first time. Rest assured, if you have questions or concerns, we are always here for you. When it comes to building resiliency and equipping the emotional toolkit, camp always proves to be a place where we know children can.