Is my child ready for sleepaway camp?


Cool summer mornings, jumping in lakes at sunset, roasting marshmallows over a fire, playing capture the flag all day, and sleeping under the stars.

These might be a few of the fond memories that you have of sleepaway camp.

But now you’re grown up and have kids of your own, and although you want them to have similar incredible overnight camping experiences, you might be unsure if they’re ready for such a challenge.
Keep reading to learn if your child is ready for sleepaway camp.

Does your child take care of their own personal hygiene?

A great way to know if your child is ready for the pressures of a sleepaway camp is if they can take care of their own personal hygiene. Do they brush their own teeth without a reminder? Can they shower and clean themselves on their own? Do they make their own bed without too much resistance?

Has your child had successful sleepovers away from home?

Another fantastic way to know if your child is ready for a sleepaway camp is to evaluate the success of their sleepovers away from home. Has your child slept over at a friend’s house and enjoyed it? If your kiddo called you every time they slept away from home, they might not quite be ready for sleepaway camp.

Is your child successful in new situations?

Your child should be able to successfully navigate new situations with limited guidance. There will always be counselors and resources at a sleepaway camp, but your little camper should be able to make friends and get involved in activities without much pushing from you.
Sleepaway camp can be intimidating, even if your child has expressed interest in going. That’s not to say that they aren’t ready, it’s just something to keep in mind.

Does your child want to go to sleepaway camp?

as your child directly told you or asked to go to sleepaway camp? Once you know that they want to go to sleepaway camp, the next step is to evaluate if you think they’re ready.
If they’re still struggling to make friends, survive sleepovers, or take care of their personal hygiene, be sure to express your concerns. Remind your kiddo that they need to show you that they’re ready by doing some of the actions above.

Has your child been successfully put to bed by another adult?

When babysitters come over do they struggle to put your little one to bed? If your kiddo can’t seem to stay in bed unless you’re around, they might not be ready for a sleepaway camp where they’ll be surrounded by strangers.

Does your child know what sleepaway camp is?

Ask them to describe it to you so that you can get a good overview of what your child actually thinks happens.
As much as we might have fond memories of our childhood sleepaway camps, it’s important to send your child off with reasonable expectations. It might rain while they’re camping outside and they might not always get to do their first choice of activity.
If your child can recognize that it won’t always be the land of their dreams (and that there won’t be any electronics), then they’re probably ready for sleepaway camp.

Expectation setting

The best thing that you can do to help your child enjoy an overnight camp is to prepare them well. Help them set realistic expectations for camp and strategies that they can use if they get homesick.

Are you ready for your kids to go to sleepaway camp?

Even after just a week or two of being away, it can be difficult for both parents and kids to transition back to standard home life. Kids get used to more freedom and space to roam, while parents might have forgotten that bedtime was a constant negotiation.
When your child returns home, you might want to start working in elements of the camp routine that your child enjoyed. You can slowly remove elements (or keep them there) to suit your own living situation and routine. ♦

Lisa Borg and Beth Goldstein are local Camp Advisors with The Camp Experts & Teen Summers.

For more information, contact or; 610-755-8653.

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