Parents who attended overnight camps in New England as a child often can’t wait for their own children to experience camp themselves. Camp is a great time for kids to learn and try new things. It is also the optimal opportunity to make new friends and develop life-long skills. Camp is also full of fun activities that your child will get to pick and choose from, including canoeing, crafts, swimming, and so more.
If at any point in the months, weeks, or days leading up to your child’s sleep away camp, you begin to notice that you are more excited camp then they are, take a step back and check in with your child. Here are a few tactics you can use to help your child open up so you can help them manage their anxiety.
Depending on how in-tune your child is with their feelings and how open they are to share them, you may want to start with a simple observation. An observation leaves the conversation open-ended, allowing them to share as much or as little as they want. Try saying something like: “From the look on your face, I wonder if you are a little nervous about going to camp.”
Stay connected, offer comfort, and, most importantly, be quiet. Really listen to what they have to say and pause after their response to give them time to expand.
Reaffirm to your child that what they are feeling is completely normal and valid. You can try and say things such as, “I bet most kids are nervous about going to camp,” as a way to help them realize that everyone gets anxious when trying new things and stepping outside their comfort zone.
Your child may have more to say about how they are feeling. Continue to listen to them as they open up. Continue to listen for as long as they need to talk. Continue to reaffirm that how they feel is understandable and you want to be there to support them through it.
Work together with your child to think of ways that they can feel less anxious at home before going to camp and while they are at camp. Some things you can try are:
By addressing their fears and anxieties before leaving for overnight camps in New England, you are helping to set your child up for a successful summer camp experience.