Yesterday I shared with you my own camp experiences, but I realize not everyone went away to camp as a kid, so you may not have a personal experience to draw from. So if your child is interested in going, how will you know if your child is ready?  Take your cue from your children. In many cases they’re able to determine their readiness before a parent does. If they’re interested, it’s a good chance they’re ready.

If you ask other parents how they could tell if their child was ready for overnight camp, you’ll likely get a number of answers. When it comes to staying at an overnight camp, you’re the best person to determine if your child is prepared. Look through these tips to help, but then ultimately trust your child to know if they’re ready or not.

Some other things to consider is has your child spent the night with a friend or relative before? Was it a pleasant and successful experience for him/her?  Was she able to stay without calling home for reassurance?  Children who are able to be away from parents for at least a night are more likely to be good candidates for an overnight camp experience.

Perhaps your first try should be for a shorter session for their first time at overnight camp. By having only one week away, you’ll have the opportunity for both of you to test the waters.  You’ll be able to find out how he/she fits into the structured routine of a camp and you’ll find out if you can separate yourself as well.  This shorter stay will also let you know if your child is old enough to manger her own money (most camps allow campers to bring limited funds to spend), is interested in the camp’s theme if it’s a themed camp, and can manage the separation with little anxiety.

It’ll also be important to know that your child will be comfortable seeking help from adults or authority figures at camp. If your child is still very attached to you, it may make overnight camp difficult. If your child is too shy or too afraid to connect with other people in authority, it’s time to work on that skill before sending him/her away to camp.

Picky eaters may also have difficulty at overnight summer camps. The staff may prepare special meals for a child with allergies or religious beliefs which limits what they can eat. However, they’re not able to prepare a special meal for a child simply because they don’t like what’s being served.  Perhaps asking to see a menu for the week will allow you to prepare your child for trying new foods.

Summer camp can be a rewarding experience if your child is prepared and ready.  Working on skills to help her be more successful at camp are also life-skills that are important for development.   Enjoy!

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