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MomTalk.com November 19, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Summer Camp: How to Handle Your Child's First Big Trip Away From Home

Ahhh, summer. The kids are out of school and you're thinking about what they are going to do while you and/or your spouse work. The busy schedule. The endless e-mails and buzzing of the blackberry. The kids are whining because they want to do something. The perfect solution: summer camp.



Debra Huntley, Ph.D., chair of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program at Argosy University's Twin Cities campus says that summer camp is often the first thing that comes to mind as we remember back to our youth: the fun times we had on the lake, playing ball or doing those great arts and crafts activities.

Ahhh, summer. The kids are out of school and you're thinking about what they are going to do while you and/or your spouse work. The busy schedule. The endless e-mails and buzzing of the blackberry. The kids are whining because they want to do something. The perfect solution: summer camp.

Debra Huntley, Ph.D., chair of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program at Argosy University's Twin Cities campus says that summer camp is often the first thing that comes to mind as we remember back to our youth: the fun times we had on the lake, playing ball or doing those great arts and crafts activities. As parents, we now find ourselves on the other end of the spectrum considering our options for outdoor and learning-rich activities for our kids.

So what do you consider to make your child's first official "away from home" camp experience easier on you and your child?

Huntley says the first thing that you need to do is, "trust your instincts and your knowledge of where your child is developmentally." Has your child done well with sleepovers in the past? How do they handle separation? Do they make friends easily?

In addition, she says that choosing a camp is a perfect opportunity for parents and children to spend time together. Look on the internet together for information on what to expect. "This will help the child know that you have a direct interest and are involving them in the selection as well as preparing them for the experience," says Huntley.

"When checking out a camp, one of the most important things you can do is review the qualifications of the counselors and staff," says Huntley. "Who will be available and how will they handle anxiety, unfamiliarity or other issues that a child might face?"

Once the camp decision is made and it's time for the "big day," parents can take a few simple steps to ensure that those nights away are not as tough on their children. "A great thing to do is pack ‘survival gear' for the tough moments," says Huntley. Some great things to include are funny photos or drawings or some favorite objects/treats that will cheer them up at night (don't embarrass them though). Your child may also have some ideas about what is needed to help them get through those lonely or scary moments.

"Even with all of the planning and positive reinforcement, some children may need to be picked up earlier than others and as parents, it's important to not only be realistic, but positive," says Huntley. If the child needs to be picked up earlier, don't make it an issue, celebrate the days they made it through.

The most important thing to remember as a parent is that you've got to get control of your emotions. Too often, separation anxiety occurs with the child and the parent. "Parents have to face their children leaving home for the first time and that can be difficult even for the most grown up of grown-ups," says Huntley. "Just as important as preparing your child for camp is that you check your emotions at the door and be positive. If you convey all of your anxiety, it will definitely feed your child's anxiety as well."

"Their first time at summer camp will initially bring a lot of anxiety, but in the end it will give them a sense of accomplishment and independence, be a meaningful learning experience, and create lifelong memories."

Courtesy of ARAcontent



Categories: Pre-Schoolers, School-Age, Tweens, Children,


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