By Guest Blogger Hannah Baucom, Office Manager at Merriwood Christian Camp in Clemmons

Preparing for summer camp should not be taken lightly. Whether summer camp is a long-time tradition for your family, or if this is your first time embarking on this experience, the following can help you with decision-making and in turn lead to a positive summer camp experience for your child.

Plan Ahead

Just as many people book a summer vacation as much as one year out, it can be beneficial to plan ahead when preparing for summer camp. Doing so also allows you to see how the camp week(s) will fit into the family’s overall summer calendar.

preparing for summer campPlanning ahead also allows a first-time, potentially hesitant prospective camper time to prepare for potential scenarios that may happen at camp. Parents then have time to counsel the child on how to handle different situations that may arise. For instance, parents can spend the months leading up to summer role-playing with the child on how to handle social challenges. They can also encourage the child to gain more autonomy with their own hygiene and taking responsibility for their own behaviors.  Children can also practice organization skills so they can be successful living alongside others in a cabin space. Last, parents can help the child have positive bedtime habits in place without sleep crutches, so the camp bedtime routine is a smooth transition. All these things make planning ahead a wise choice!

preparing for summer campConsider a Tour

If the parent or child is hesitant about a summer camp program, a tour can be beneficial when preparing for summer camp!

A tour allows the child to see the place they will spend a week of their life! A good tour is geared toward the child and allows them to walk through what a day (and night, if applicable) will look like for the camper. The walk-through might include a talking through the tentative schedule and which activities they can choose. Having that visual in the prospective camper’s mind can ease a lot of nerves come check-in day. It gives the camper context and experience. It also gives the camper peace of mind knowing where to find certain activities and buildings so they can arrive confident!

A camp visit also allows the parent and prospective camper to ask questions. Should a challenge arise (be it a physical need, emotional concern, injury, or illness) everyone is aware of how it will be handled.

Parents and future campers should come away from a tour excited about the program and confident in the camp’s leadership, mission, purpose, schedule, activities, and environment. If the tour hasn’t achieved this, you may consider if that camp is able to meet the needs of your child. Or perhaps the child will benefit from a bit more time before embarking on that adventure.

Consider the Options

Decide if you want a true adventure camp experience for your child, a specialized camp for a certain interest, or simply need a great program that fulfills child-care needs so the guardian can work.

Different Types of Camp

If interested in a true adventure camp experience, find out if the camp operates on their own property with their own facilities.  Do they offer innovative and unique skills classes like archery, riflery, axe-throwing, sling shots, leathercraft, duct tape crafts, outdoor cooking, acting, sports, and other things that they might not get to do elsewhere?  Inquire if there are water activities like a pool. Do they have a lake with boating activities, a blob, water trampoline, water obstacle course? What sorts of recreation games and outdoor adventures and experiences in nature are offered. Do they include chapels or cabin devotionals?

If your child is into a certain sport or creative activity, there’s probably a camp for that!  This can be a great opportunity to do what they love and hone those skills. However, while your child may benefit from continued experience and training in that activity, consider an alternative program that allows them to branch out and learn something unique!

If you simply need child-care, you might find a great day program offered. For the child that benefits from the comfort of the same location all summer, this might be a good option. Some of the larger, local churches in your area may be a good place to search for this sort of day care/day camp option.

Whatever format you choose, the camp should have a clear purpose and mission, history and traditions. The camp should be able to share with you the process of how they hire their summer team, what level of training they provide for their staff, and what safety protocol they have in place. It’s important to do your homework so you feel confident releasing your child into the camp’s care.

There’s Still Time

If you are considering a camp experience for your child this summer, research and sign up today! Even if you find the program is full, ask if there is a waiting list and what that process or potential looks like. If you don’t happen to get in this summer, make sure you’ve been added to the camp’s mailing list so you get information sooner next year so you don’t miss out.

Happy camping!

*Sponsored by Merriwood Christian Camp