10 Checklist for First Time Overnight Camp Parents 

Checklist for First Time Overnight Camp Parents 
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10 Checklist for First Time Overnight Camp Parents

Sending your child to overnight camp for the first time is an exciting time for your family and of course, you want it to be a successful summer.  Here are some tips on how you can help make your child’s first year away a great one! 

Label everything – If it is going in the trunk, it should be labeled! Camp life means there are a bunch of kids all living together and items are sure to be mixed up from time to time. Making sure to label all items—from clothes to shampoo—will help misplaced items get back to your camper. 

Leave Nice Items Home – Camp is messy, in the best of ways.  Playing sports outside, eating ice cream on a hot day and walking down to the lake after a rainstorm are all part of a day at camp.  If your child has a favorite hoodie or pair of sweats and you would like it to come home looking nice, leave it at home.  

PsstOur Ultimate Summer Camp Guide 2024 is here!

Do not Overpack – You want to make sure your child has all the items on the packing list the camp sent but try not to go overboard on the extras.  Campers do not have a ton of space to put their things and lots of the extras never get used.  Also, some campers find that too much stuff can be overwhelming when they cannot find the items they need.  

Only camp what your little camper needs for summer camp

Share Positive Messages & Avoid Pick-Up Deals – It is common for your child (and you) to have nerves as camp approaches.  Sharing positive messages about camp and not putting your own anxiety on your child is important.  Avoid making pick up deals with your child before they leave for camp.  If you let your child know you will pick them up if they want to come home, you are sending the message that you do not believe they will be successful at camp.  

Send mail – Make sure to write your child throughout the summer.  Whether you send a one-way email or a handwritten note, letters from home mean a lot to campers.  Try not to write about your amazing vacation or how much fun a younger sibling is having at home.  Although unintentional, this type of news can make your child feel like they are missing out.  Keep letters light and positive and reassure your child that you know they are having the best time at camp. 

Camp letters form kids can sometimes be ones were they are missing you
Photo by cottonbro/Pexel Stock

Stay Calm if You Receive a Homesick Letter – If you get a letter home from your child that they miss home and want to go home,  try to stay calm.  You can feel helpless when you are so far away from your child but know it is common for children to miss home.  Often times, kids write during downtime at camp and these moments are often fleeting feelings. There is a good chance the homesick moment will have passed by the time you get the letter.  If the homesickness is really bad and affecting your child’s experience, you would have already heard from the director.  Call the camp director to understand how your child is feeling.   

Do not Cause Drama on Group Chat – Often times, parents will start a group chat for their child’s bunk.  While it is nice to connect with the other parents, try not to start drama on the chat.  If you have a concern about something happening at camp, contact the camp director directly to discuss what is bothering you.  

Respect Camp Policies – Each camp has its own policies, from sending packages to technology that is allowed at camp.  Please respect the policies.  Don’t hide food or phones when packing or buy bunk gifts when they aren’t allowed.  If you do, you are sending a message to your child that rules do not apply.  

Visiting the kids at camp is something parents look forward to all Summer.
Photo by RDNE Stock project/Pexel Stock

Visiting Day is About Quality Time – Visiting Day is all about spending time with your child.  It’s not about how much food and stuff you can bring or about having your entire extended family there.  Let your child guide how the day will go and participate in the things your child wants to share with you.  

Do not Obsess over Camp Photos – It is hard not to analyze each picture posted of your child but keep in mind that each photo is just a moment in time. If your child is not smiling, it does not mean they are unhappy at camp.  Maybe they were caught off-guard by the photo or participating in a camp activity.   If you are worried, contact the director. 

Remember that the camp director is your partner this summer and they are there to help guide you through any worries or situations that arise, both before camp and during.  The first year of camp is truly special with so many firsts—enjoy the amazing gift of camp you have given your child!

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