education KIDS& JUNE Off to camp By Tresa Erickson Your children are no longer babies. They haven’t been so for a while, but you’ve always thought of them that way until this year. Seems like they matured over night, and now you’re ready to give them a little more independence and send them to camp this summer. Most children are ready for summer camp around age 10. Not only can they take care of their personal needs, but most are spreading their wings and can handle a little time away from Mom and Dad. In fact, they might even look forward to getting away from home for a week or two. In order to select the right camp, you need to ask family and friends for recommendations. You might also want to contact your local park district for a list of the camps they offer and conduct a search online. Sit down with your children and discuss your findings. Select some camps together and then contact each for further information. Together, you can find the right camp and you should enroll your children in whatever camps you choose as soon as possible before they fill up. Once your children are signed up for camp, you can start preparing them for what lies ahead. Make sure you post a calendar somewhere and count down the days to camp together. Read through the camp brochures together and check out some books on camping adventures. If they aren’t already, get your children excited about camp by relating tales of what you did at camp as a kid. Create a packing list for camp and help your children gather their things. Discuss the issue of homesickness with your children and let them know that it’s ok to miss home from time to time. Get up early on the first day of camp and take your children to camp, if possible. Help them get settled into their new surroundings, meet their camp counselors and explore the area together. Keep your farewells short and sweet, try not to get too emotional and encourage your children to have a great time. Send your children letters while they are away to prevent them from getting homesick. If they are staying at camp for more than a few days, send them a care package, if permitted. Pick up your children from camp, if possible, and throw them a little welcome home party. Help them make a scrapbook of their camp experiences and encourage them to stay in touch with the friends they made. In all likelihood, your children will enjoy their days away at camp and want to do it again next summer. They will become more and more independent with each passing year and leaving the nest may be easier for them.
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