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Don't make me go!

Tips for preparing your first time camper

Going away to camp is a major milestone for children and their families. Several shorter, casual conversations while running errands or eating dinner can help a child who tends to be anxious or homesick. That's how Bob Ditter, a Boston family therapist and a national expert on camp, suggests parents begin preparing their first-time camper. Ditter suggests his Rule of Six can help:

1. Respect others and you'll have friends. Camp is about making friends. If you're shy, get to know others by being a good listener. Respect others but realize not everyone in your camp has to be your friend. One or two is fine.

2. Just try the new activities at camp.
Remind your child of what excited them when they first thought of going to camp. It's normal not to like or be good at everything. But the more you put into camp, the more you'll get out of it.

3. Be patient with yourself. It takes a few days to get adjusted. Everything is new; the kids, routines, the bed, the bathroom, and meals. Mostly, you'll be having so much fun, you won't mind all the changes but give yourself time.

4. Help out. Camp is about fun but it also requires you to help out and cooperate with others. That's part of what makes camp so special, kids helping each other out. Clean-up is part of camp, you do it every day at home, remember?

5. Get help if you have a problem or need something.
Everyone has good and bad days. Your counselor is there to help you. Don't wait to tell your parents if you are upset. (And parents should know the "backup persons" at camp and how to contact them, if there is a problem.)

6. Remember your strengths. It's great to reinforce first-time campers' strong points, remind them of their positive qualities, what makes them a good friend, their talents and strengths.

Tips for sending your child to camp

Founded in 1910, the American Camp Association is a national community of camp professionals dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults through the camp experience. ACA is the only organization that accredits all types of camps, based upon 300 national standards for health and safety.