Sleepaway camp is just a few weeks away, and soon your child will be enjoying a summer full of sports, singing around the campfire, and making new friends. You, on the other hand, are a nervous wreck. You can’t imagine your child surviving without you. As a parent and summer camp professional, I’ve talked to many camp directors about what they wish parents would do when their child is at camp. Here are the top seven things they say:
1. Focus on the positive.
Sure, you’re going to miss your child, but keep in mind why you sent them to sleepaway camp. They are going to gain important life skills in a fun and caring environment, so try to focus on that when you feel a bit anxious.
2. Stop analyzing online photos.
You’ve combed through the 200-plus daily photos posted by the camp, and now you are obsessing because your sweet girl wasn’t smiling. Take a breath. Just because she isn’t smiling doesn’t mean she isn’t having fun. She was most likely focusing on an activity and not posing for a picture.
3. Refrain from calling the camp office with every thought.
Camp directors want to have open communication and hear any concerns you may have, but please don’t call the office every day with comments like, “My child is missing a sock.” When your child is at camp, allow them to solve their own problems or ask a counselor for help. Trust that the camp staff is taking care of your child and will make sure your camper has everything they need.
4. Don’t make pickup deals.
Did the first letter home or that first phone call make you think your child isn’t as happy as they could be? Keep in mind it takes time for children to adjust to a new environment. Offer positive encouragement, and let your child know they will have a great time. Making pickup deals will send a message to your child that you don’t believe they will have a successful camp experience.
5. Don’t start cabin drama.
Don’t start a group text with the other moms in your child’s cabin to talk about what is going on at camp. Try not to get involved by asking how everyone’s child is doing and if they have heard anything about yours. Feel confident that your child is doing fine and that you will hear from the camp director if they aren’t.
6. Respect camp rules.
Don’t sneak an iPhone, food, or other prohibited items to your child on visiting day or in packages. You are teaching your child that rules don’t apply and that they can be broken.
7. Take a break.
Remember that camp is also a chance for you to have a break from the cooking, laundry, and playdates. Take this time to spend more time with your spouse, friends, or special time with your child still at home. A child at camp can also be a vacation for you, so kick back, relax, and let the camp professionals do their job — which is to provide your child with the best summer of their life.