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Heading away to camp, oh my!

How to prepare, what to bring, and what to leave at home

Going away to camp is an invaluable opportunity for all kids. The camp experience can provide your child with a chance to meet kids from diverse backgrounds and opportunities to learn team work. It also can be an environment for independence and a load of fun-filled memories. So how can you prepare your child for fun and success at camp?


Express confidence and enthusiasm

Discuss with your child what type of camp she would like to attend. Hudson Valley Parent has an extensive listing camps at to get you started with your search. If you still live near the camp you attended, your child might be interested in going to the same camp, especially if you can tell great stories about your own experiences. “Participation in the camp selection process helps them feel involved and take ownership,” says Jill Tipograph, author of Everything Summer Guide and Planner and CEO of Everything Summer, LLC.

You're never too young for camp

After the camp is selected, express confidence and enthusiasm about the new experience that your child will have away from home. Ideally, you both can visit the camp, check out the facilities and talk with the camp director. If that is not possible, the camp should have pictures of the accommodations in brochures or on the internet. You can talk about the different activities your child will be able to try.


Overcoming separation fears

Some children can say goodbye to their parents at the bus stop and never look back. However, most kids will express some concerns about going to camp. “Teach kids that homesickness and separation fears are normal. Let them know that lots of kids experience these feelings,” says psychologist Frank Sileo, PhD, author of "Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids and Homesickness".

Looking for a great camp?

If you think your child may have difficulty going to camp, organize practice times away from home either at a friend’s or relative’s home. Then when your child returns, discuss the experience. It might help to alleviate the homesickness. Sileo suggests discussing coping strategies with your child. Send pictures with the camp gear to help with the loneliness. Would a favorite object or book give your child a sense of comfort?


Find out what you must pack for camp here.


Jan Udlock is a freelance writer and mom of five. She has wonderful memories of going to camp where her grandmother was the crafts director.