In the old days, a sleep-away camp meant driving an hour to the woods and dropping your kids off with a can of bug spray and a couple of swimsuits. Nowadays, a sleep-away camp can involve screening possible summer camps and a plane flight to a truly isolated location. You can even find sleep-away camps for the entire family. This sounds expensive, and it can be, but many of these camps offer scholarships.
Don’t let the price tag shy you away from investigating if a sleep-away camp is right for your child.
A sleep-away camp is an opportunity for your child or children to bunk with other kids and some teen counselors in an outdoorsy location from one to eight weeks over the summer. Some kids form such great friendships and enjoy themselves so much they turn a sleep-away camp into an annual tradition. When they get older they want to help the camp and train to become a counselor (their title is CIT or counselors-in-training). Once they work as a CIT for a summer they graduate to a counselor and help younger children have the same great experiences as them. For other kids, they enjoy sleep-away camps for a few years, enjoy it, but move onto other day camps for sports or hobby close to home.
Most sleep-away camps accept children 8 years old and older. If you have a cautious, only child or first born, she or he may not be ready to separate from mom and dad until they are older.
But if your child is the youngest of five, you may see him or her biting at the bit at the end of first grade to head to camp.
Ultimately, you are the best judge of whether your child is ready for summer sleep-away camp. But if you’re wondering what the benefits are here are four for you to consider.
They’ll deal with separation anxiety without your help
It’s possible your child will experience a bit of homesickness. But with the help of their new friends, CIT’s and counselors they learn how to overcome missing mom and dad. This is a great lesson for a teenager because in a few years they’ll be off to college. You can view sleep-away camp as a test drive for when they move out to live at college. They’ll learn skills on how to overcome sadness, anxiety, and fear. They’ll feel accomplished and independent when they overcome their fears.
They’ll learn social and emotional skill sets
If your child is a bit shy you may be surprised when they come home a social butterfly. When they are off to fend for themselves they’ll quickly learn how to get along with others. There are many different personalities they’ll learn about and how to best get along with them (or not). They may experience many different types of emotions from first crushes to how to deal with bunk mates they hate.
When given them space to go and experience the world they get a taste of freedom and independence. After experiences like this, they’ll be happy to return home. They’ll appreciative what they’ve got at home and will hopefully be able to handle school stress and home life a bit better.
Plus once it’s time for them to fly the coop they’ll be in less of a hurry because they’ll understand how good they’ve got it at home (hopefully).
They’ll discover activities they can’t do at home
When searching for camps have your kid check out the daily activities. Most camps have structured time from sunrise to sunset. We all crave structure! Your child may discover she loves archery or wants to become a lifeguard. They may enjoy pottery or some new trade.
Not only will they learn new things to do they will learn about them with friends. Creating a friendship over learning something new is precious. You fail together and win together and bonds of friendship grow stronger because of these experiences.
They may become more open to taking risks
When they learn things from these activities they’ll be open to taking on risks outside of camp.
They’ll learn about failure and success from personal risks or risks taken by a team. They may be more willing to try new things at home like a new meal, forming new friends or ending others.