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For Drama-Free Summer Camp, Just Follow these Rules
Long after summer has ended the rewards your child
gained from a positive summer camp experience will continue to resonate. The
new friendships, interests, and the opportunity to engage in physically
challenging activities will deepen your youngster's understanding about self-awareness
and independence while sharpening his or her social skills at the same time.
And of course, there are the memories that your son or daughter will cherish
for a lifetime.
But if summer camp is the first time your youngster is going to be away from home, both you and your child may have some concerns that need addressing. With that in mind, here is a checklist of four basic camp strategies that should be followed to ensure a drama-free camp experience for all concerned.
It all starts with research. That includes visiting a few camps before committing to anything. The visits will provide you with an opportunity to include your child in the decision-making process. It's important that your son or daughter is involved, so that it doesn't feel like he or she is simply being shipped away against his or her will. Ergo, do not guilt or pressure your child into attending camp. Instead, sit down in front of the computer with your son or daughter and while researching possible camps, emphasize all the cool stuff they'll be doing while they are away.
Make sure your child is up to the physical demands of camp. Challenges are good, but when those challenges are beyond the reach of your son or daughter, camp can turn into a real nightmare. So, if your child is anxious about canoeing or hiking in the woods, it might be prudent to introduce your child to such activities yourself, ensuring that the experience is a light-hearted, learning adventure. It will go a long way towards helping your youngster deal with the anxiety of facing physical tests that he or she may feel ill-prepared to tackle.
Homesickness is inevitable. Discussing the issue with your child before summer camp and acknowledging that the feeling is normal will help reduce his or her anxiety when the pangs of loneliness actually occur. Let your son or daughter know such sentiments are normal. Another way to help children with the transition is to post a letter the day your child sets off for camp, ensuring it arrives in their hands only a few days into their adventure. That first week away from home can be the most trying, so an encouraging, heartfelt letter will go a long way towards helping your son or daughter with the transition. A letter will also encourage a child to write back, providing him or her with a positive outlet to express anxieties about being away from home.
Get an early start on packing. Preparing for the big day can be taxing. Fortunately, most camps provide a comprehensive packing list. But don't be fooled into thinking that packing is a “day before” activity. Start well ahead of time to ensure that everything on the packing list has been purchased and is ready to go. And don't forget to include a little surprise that your child will discover while unpacking his or her container at camp. The gesture will go a long way to helping create a smooth transition from home life to camp life.
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