When your child hits a certain age, you might think that they’re ready for summer camp or sleepaway camp. However, being ready for camp isn’t as clear as reaching an age. Many kids start summer camp when they’re 8 to 10 years old. Other kids aren’t ready until they’re 11 or 12. To figure out if your child is ready for summer camp, take a look at their maturity level and personality by asking yourself these questions below.
How independent is my child?
Independence is a big factor when determining if your child is ready. At summer camp, and especially sleepaway camp, your child must be independent enough to do things like brush their teeth, shower or bathe, dress themselves and navigate most of their daily routine on their own. Camp counselors may remind campers about their personal hygiene, but it’s most important that kids already know how to do this.
Being self-reliant and mature enough to go to camp goes beyond personal hygiene. If an issue comes up, it’s best if your child knows how to ask an adult at camp for help. Has your child had successful sleepovers at friends’ homes? Have they had successful experiences with babysitters? Going to camp does teach kids independence, so if you’re unsure that they’re ready, look at the other signs.
Is my child confident when trying new things?
For most children, going to summer camp or sleepaway camp is an opportunity to experience new things. Is your child ready to handle it with confidence?
Your child will likely participate in many activities that they haven’t tried before, from archery and sailing to pottery and ceramics. If your child reacts positively when being introduced to brand new things, they’re likely ready for camp.
Confidence is also necessary for making friends and adapting to new surroundings. Think about your child’s previous experiences with meeting unfamiliar kids, meeting new teachers, or exploring new classrooms. Were they excited, or were they upset and tried to avoid the situation? Going to camp can help nudge your child out of their comfort zone, but it’s best that they welcome new things and activities with open arms, at least for the most part.
Does my child take direction well?
Camp life is filled with schedules, planned activities, and rules. Does your child follow instructions well? Do they listen, remember directions and follow through on what they’re told? If your child has a stubborn streak or still has tantrums when they’re told what to do, they may not be ready yet.
While kids are not expected to be perfect at camp, remember that many camp rules are designed for child safety. When they’re not followed, the consequences can be disastrous. Your child should be willing to follow instructions given by adults, whether that’s going to bed at a certain time, moving on to a new activity, or remembering to do something for safety’s sake.
Is my child asking to go to camp?
Here’s a sign as clear as day that your child is ready for camp: they’re asking you to go! Maybe they’ve never experienced camp before and they’ve heard about it from their friends at school. Or maybe your child has been to day camps and is ready for a new adventure at an overnight camp. In either case, if they’re asking to go, that’s a very good sign that they’re ready for it.
What do I want my child to learn?
When you’ve determined that your child is ready, ask yourself what you want them to learn at camp. Many summer camps and sleepaway camps are tailored toward certain activities, educational subjects or adventures.
For example, if you and your child are interested in coding and computers, an academic camp that focuses on that can be really fun for them. If you want your child to spend more time outdoors and moving around, an adventure camp with hiking, canoeing and survival skills is a good option. Is your child a budding creative type? Check out the arts summer camps that focus on theater, dance, art or writing.
If your child isn’t quite ready for overnight camps yet, try sending them to summer camps during the day as a trial run. Summer@Stratford infuses a STEAM curriculum into an enriching, fun summer camp experience. Summer@Stratford has designed subject-based, engaging camp experiences for preschoolers and kindergarteners, elementary-age kids, and middle schoolers. Learn more about Stratford summer camp programs by visiting www.stratfordschools.com/summer.