More than 5 million American children attend day or overnight camps each summer. It's an exciting adventure for many kids - but being away from home for an extended time can also spark anxiety in the youngsters and their parents!
Pediatrician, Dr. Don Shifrin, joined New Day to help ease some of those anxieties.
Here are some of his tips:
- How can parents help build excitement for camp?
- Let kids play an active role in choosing a camp
- Listen to their fears/questions/expectations about the camp experience - and help them research.
- Tips for prepping for departure:
- Have child help with packing so they can include favorite pillow, sweatshirt, family photos, etc.
- Also remind them , gently, that you, and they, will abide by Camp rules that prohibit phones, video games, or 14lbs of Hershey kisses hidden in their luggage.
- Pack a cheerful "farewell letter" that the child can read once they get their
- Mail regular cheerful letters to camp
- What if a child grows more anxious as departure time draws near?
A: In cases of extreme anxiety it may be best to cancel. This is a highly charged decision. I personally would recommend not telling your camper that if he/she doesn't like it after the first week they can come home. This gives them little incentive to integrate and participate with their bunkmates and programming.
- What if a child writes or calls, begging to to come home?
Listen carefully to all complaints and remain calm. Please. Then get help assessing the situation.
If you deem the issue fairly serious, talk with the Director and Counselor to get an accurate picture of what is happening. Often it is not daytime but issues of homesickness that are occurring. Gentle encouragement from you and moderate amounts of time and TLC from Camp personnel can often smooth out the problem.
If, you deem it serious enough to take your child out of camp, please, please do not suggest that every camp experience will be a failure, or that your child has 'failed' where "everyone else was fine".