Once you're all signed up for summer camp, it's just a matter of counting the days until you go. Oh wait...You've got some prepping to do, don't you? Here are some tips:
Talk to your family
- Make sure they know if you're nervous, excited, curious-whatever.
- What are you worried about? (Making friends? Feeling homesick? A health problem?)
- What are you excited about? (Making friends? Trying new things? Having fun?)
- Ask questions about their own summer camp experiences. Did they go? What was fun, and what was challenging? Do they have photos, videos, or scrapbooks they can share with you?
- Remember: Your parents might need some time to deal with their own feelings, especially if this is the first time they've sent you to camp. Some grown-ups can be nervous or even afraid of being separated from their kids. Take it from Sarah, 12, who told us: "My mom won't let me go to camp because she doesn't want me to be away from her that long. But someday I'll get my way."
Connect with other campers and counselors
- Ask the staff at your camp if they can set you up with an older camper who's already a camp veteran.
- Communicate through e-mail, IM's, or phone to get your questions answered and the inside scoop on life at camp.
- Find out if you can communicate with one of your counselors, too.
Read up on camp information
Make sure your camp sends you everything they can ahead of time, such as:
- An activity and event schedule
- A book of rules and regulations
- A map of the camp itself
The more you know about what to expect, the more likely you are to have fun from day one.
Get used to being away from home
If you've never been away from home or your parents, you might be nervous. One way to get used to the idea is to plan a trip away from home alone -- maybe to a grandparent's house -- a few months or weeks before camp.
- Make a list of things you need to buy and things you need to pack. Your camp will probably send or e-mail you a list of must-have supplies.
- Pack things that you want to have with you, but consider leaving anything that's truly valuable or irreplaceable at home. If there's something really special that you'd like to bring but don't want to lose, consider taking a picture of it and just bringing that!
- Put your name on everything you bring-in permanent marker! This will help you avoid arguments abut what belongs to who, and help your stuff get back to you if you misplace it.
A mental "packing list"
Here are some other things that are important to bring to camp with you. They're free, easy to pack, and will come in super-handy all summer long:
- A positive attitude. You can't expect to make new friends or have fun if you show up with a gloomy outlook.
- An open mind. Camp may be different than you expect, and so might the people you meet there. If you open your mind to new ideas and new possibilities, you're more likely to fit in and have a great time.
- Your sense of adventure. The things you do and see at camp are bound to be new and exciting, so get amped up!
- Your sense of fairness. When you find yourself in a new group of kids, cooperation and kindness are your most useful tools.
Have a camp "film festival"
One great way to mentally prepare yourself for going off to summer camp is to watch a classic camp movie! Try renting one of these fun flicks:
- Meatballs (PG)
- Heavy Weights (PG)
- The Parent Trap (PG)
- Camp Nowhere (PG)
- Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (G)
- Ernest Goes to Camp (PG)
- Addams Family Values (PG-13)
- SpaceCamp (PG)
Next up: Making Friends