Before sending your child to day camp, here are 10 last minute suggestions for a great experience.
1. FILL ‘ER UP. Bring one bottle of refrigerated water and a second one that has been in the freezer. As the day wears on, the frozen water will melt and provide cool refreshment. Spray bottles are a great idea too. They keep the face and body cool in the hot sun.
2. IT’S A SCORCHER! Apply sunscreen to your child’s skin before he leaves home and pack the tube along for later reapplication. Avoid tanning lotion with little or no SPF, or sunscreen that contains glitter as it can reflect light and cause sunburn. Send along a hat for extra protection.
3. BUG OFF! If your child is going to be out in a natural environment, he should wear insect repellent. Look for a lotion form that is safe for children; avoid sprays. When camp is over, follow up with a tick check for safekeeping.
4. ALL DECKED OUT. Camp directors always see children arriving with the wrong clothes. Some kids want to pick out their own clothes, but if they have chosen black jeans and a dark t-shirt, it may not be the best option. Dress your child for comfort, safety and appropriate temperatures. Proper shoes are important too, particularly if he is playing outside. Opt for tennis shoes over strappy sandals and flip flops.
5. NAME IT AND CLAIM IT. Any item brought to camp should have your child’s name, address and phone number on it in case it gets left behind. It also avoids confusion if identical items are brought by two children.
6. TIME OUT FROM TECH TOYS. Leave valuable items such as handheld games or cell phones at home. Day camp programs are designed to provide an enriching experience, and your child should be engaging in these activities rather than playing with electronics. If brought, these items may be confiscated and returned at day’s end in hopes your child gets the message.
7. PILLS, PAINS AND OTHER PROBLEMS. Camps have forms for parents to list their child’s medications. But if you take your camper off a medication for the summer, the camp needs to know that too, because it could cause an extreme change in behavior.
Allergies are another issue to make counselors aware of, be it insect or food related. Equally important is to share other concerns with camp staff, such as if your family is going through a divorce or has experienced a recent death, as this might affect your child’s interactions. Camps look out for the physical and emotional needs of a child, so the more information you provide, the better equipped they will be.
8. HELP IS ON THE WAY! Having an emergency contact person is vital. Even more important is to inform the designated person that you have written her name down. Every year camps have situations where they call the emergency contact person and she was not told in advance that she had this responsibility.
9. BEEF YER’ BRAIN. Read the materials the camp gives you – policies, procedures and planned activities. If you know what to expect and what is expected of you, things will run much smoother. Most camps have a weekly schedule so parents know what the upcoming activities are. Talk with your child about the activities planned. If she cannot participate because of health reasons, make sure you (not your child) inform the camp.
10. GETTING TO KNOW YOU. Find out if there is an open house where you can meet the staff and see the facility prior to camp. If not, make other arrangements to introduce yourself to those who will be caring for your child. It is important for the camp directors and counselors to know you so they can keep you informed on how things are going for your child at camp.
Finally, encourage your child to enjoy the experience. Mark the first day of camp on the family calendar and do a countdown. Help your child develop a checklist of items needed. And don’t forget to share your own camp stories. Remind your child to do his best, obey the rules, be respectful of others and have a great time!