10 Tips For First Time Campers
The first sessions at Ahmek and Wapomeo begin in just 32 days!
Summers spent at TSC give campers the opportunity to hone in on useful skills for future success: resilience, self-reliance, social adaptability, independence, confidence and more. Campers can experience their first summer adventure as early as age 6!
This journey is a route to some incredible opportunities, friendships and memories. Every new adventure sparks excitement but can also bring forward nervousness, anxiety and stress. For most, excitement trumps nerves, but some children develop anxiousness serious enough to potentially get in the way of what should be a fun, formative experience.
Here are some tips that we hope will help keep the journey smooth and give campers the tools for taking on those bumps in the road.
The camp experience is for the camper, so let your child feel a sense of ownership over it! Involve them in all the little things, even packing. Something as simple as knowing what’s in their camp bag can bring forward a feeling of preparedness and will reduce the list of unknowns!
Go shopping! Taking your soon to be camper on a shopping trip for the essentials is a great way to spark some excitement. Allowing them to choose the sunscreen with a fun bottle or a hat that they love (but won’t match any outfit) will give them additional little things to look forward to on route to camp.
Avoid questions that will lead a camper to think about being anxious. Instead of asking something like “Are you nervous about horseback riding?” ask open-ended questions like, “How are you feeling about going horseback riding?” Open-ended questions allow a camper to discuss their feelings for what they are, not for what we expect them to be!
Acknowledge stresses, nervousness and fear. Dismissing insecurities by saying things like “don’t worry you’ll love it once you get there” may be true, but could be discouraging to some! Discuss the feeling further, find the specifics of what is making your camper nervous and brainstorm tools to help these feelings pass when they do surface.
Focus on camp as the adventure it is. Check out camp photos and videos online and look at them alongside your camper. Looking through photos of activities and things your camper will get to take part in will help keep thoughts directed on all the fun they are going to have while at camp. Check out our Facebook page or Instagram page for day to day camp life.
Talk about a sibling, cousin or family friends’ experience being away from home. Sharing stories that are comparable to the adventure your camper is embarking on and are about someone they look up to can be a strategy for growing their confidence.
Incorporate sleepovers into the next couple of weeks if you haven’t started already. Shorter-term sleepovers or a night at Grandma’s will make it easier for a camper to sleep-away at camp.
It’s time to say goodbye! Keep the goodbyes short and sweet, you being confident and comfortable when the day has arrived can help minimize some of the anxiety of the big day. If a camper’s parent(s) show mixed feelings, emotions or tears before they head off to camp, it can cause a chain reaction for that camper. Show your excitement and happiness, and hide your anxiousness until they are out of sight!
Making the communication easy, fun and different than it is at home. At home, campers may have cell-phones of their own, making communication possible with a few buttons. As camp is electronic free, cell-phones are not a part of daily communication. Pack envelopes and stamps to give your camper the chance to send a letter home if they desire. With TSC’s one-way email system, you can send your camper an email whenever you like. As it is a one-way email system they will not be able to reply. The e-mail is printed in our camp office daily and given to campers at mail time. Campers usually don’t receive one-way emails every day, but is common for campers to get a few during their session at Ahmek or Wapomeo. Click here for more information about the one-way email system.
Make a plan for writing letters. Giving your camper an idea for what you want to hear about in their letters at camp will help keep things positive and hopefully away from those moments of homesickness. A camper can be having the best day ever, but once they sit down and think about home their letter can turn away from all the fun stuff that happened and turn into a ‘pick me up I want to go home’. For example, tell your camper on Friday I want to hear about your camp friends, and on Monday I want to hear all about your favourite activity at camp, and Thursday you want to hear about their favourite evening activity so far. You can even send your camper reminders about writing these letters in the emails you send on the one-way email system.