Children grow so fast! Or maybe time moves quicker as the years pile on. Either way, it seems like just yesterday you were bringing them home from the hospital. Now they’re a preteen and it’s time to start helping them learn how to be independent. Certainly some children are naturally more independent than others.
If you’re going to get the balance right here, it’s going to take a strategic approach. Sending your young ones off to camp is a very considerable choice. Granted, you must very carefully vet the camp beforehand. Not all summer camps for children are made equal. Some are downright strange, while others are practically saccharine. There’s a balance.
Still, even the most independent preteens, elementary schoolers, and teenagers may want to check in with you. Prior to cellphones, this was pretty difficult for campers. Now it’s easier than ever. Technology can bring families together and help you ease the transition for your young one through innovations like this safe video chat app.
You can check in and see how they’re doing, or they can check in and tell you how they’ve been. This can be a daily thing, a weekly thing, or an option for emergencies. Regardless which way you go, it’s worth pursuing. Additionally, there are some other best practices you may want to incorporate into your young one’s summer, fall, winter, or spring camping trip.
For most, summer is the first time a young one is sent to camp, but for others, camping transpires as a function of education in their school district. Some school districts take young ones out to camp in fourth or fifth grade, and only for about five days. You’re going to have to be their chief provisioner regardless of the scenario—it’s not like they’re holding down jobs!
They’re going to need a sleeping bag, toothbrush, toothpaste, and at least two towels if they’re going for a week. They’ll need a week’s change of clothes, and if you can provide them a little pouch of either vitamins or protein bars, that’s a good idea—just in case something should happen.
Does your child read? No? Well, this is a good time to get them started—most camps won’t have a massive technology component. One thing you’ll want to consider is the possibility of technological restrictions at the campsite. With this in mind, be sure to charge up any video chat devices fully before sending your young one-off. Also, ensure they only turn on their device either at previously established communication times or in an emergency.
You want to teach them basics, too. Talking with camp counselors and facilitators of the youth retreat where you’re sending your child is wise. Also, be sure to give children information the camp counselors might not. From there, familiarize yourself with the location of the site.
Know Your Campsite, Be The Authority
Sometimes the camping area is far removed from where you are, sometimes it’s right in your backyard and you can drive there when you’re free on a weekend to check things out for yourself.
Lastly, be sure to tell children they can share anything with you. Today’s environment is full of strange people that prey on youth. No institution is safe from such individuals, and they’re good at hiding in plain sight. Your child needs to know they can trust you with anything.
You don’t have to go into specifics. Tell them to tell you anything that happens, even if another adult tells them not to. They need to know you’re the authority, and no other teacher, leader, spiritualist, or adult that isn’t you has more authority. With open communication and the ability to touch base digitally, you’ll have your young one prepared for a good, safe time at camp.