Summer Camp and Your Daughter
I only attended one overnight camp when I was a teenager and it wasn’t the best of experiences. We seemed to spend more time cleaning the facilities than having fun, not my idea of how to spend camp time. When our kids were growing up we looked for camps that would teach them new skills (outdoor cooking at Boy Scout camp, how to dunk at basketball camp) plus how to manage themselves away from home.
These days there seems to be a dizzying choice of different summer camps. Everything from horse riding to academics, to computers and just old fashioned out door camping with canoe rides included. No matter which you choose for your daughter, there are some common ways you can help her prepare to spend time away from home on her own.
The Scout motto is to be prepared and there are some obvious things your daughter needs in her suitcase for camp like enough underwear, sunblock and deodorant to last the week. Think about the less obvious things though. We always included a list of family addresses, stamps, envelopes and some writing paper in our daughter’s camp essentials. It was a good way for her to stay in touch without email or cell phone texting.
Writing letters is also a great way for you to stay in touch. Mail a letter to your daughter at camp a few days before she leaves. She will have a nice letter from home soon after she arrives which may help if she is feeling homesick.
If your daughter is attending a nature camp, find some plant and bird books about the camp location and help her learn to identify some common species that she will see at camp. If she is attending camp outside of your local area, looking at a map and learning about the towns or cities near the camp location will help her be ready for being in new surroundings. And include a disposable camera in her supplies so she can take pictures.
Having your daughter spend a night or two away from home at a friends house or with relatives before she goes to camp is a good way to help her practice being away from home. She will gain a little confidence and so will you that she is ready to be away for a longer stretch of time.
And most importantly at the tween girl age, if she has started her menstrual period already, track with a calendar her last cycle to estimate if her next period will start at camp. Pack her some emergency supplies and make sure she knows where to get more from the camp office, store, or nurse. If she hasn’t started her period yet, assume she might while she is away so be sure she knows how to handle it so it isn’t a surprise or inconvenience.
Helping your daughter be prepared for summer camp will ensure she enjoys the experience even more and will let her create lots of happy memories to share with you when she gets home.