Preparing Your Child for Summer Camp: Separation Tips

Jul 14, 2023

After months of routine, early rising, afterschool activities and birthday parties, I am really looking forward to a more relaxing summer schedule. It would certainly be a blow if the first week of camp was a bust and my little went kicking and screaming.

In NYC, summer means kids in sprinklers, steamy pavement, iced drinks, and young children entering unfamiliar territory. What kind of unfamiliar territory? TRANSITIONS

For adults, we’ll probably go to the same office and maintain the same schedule – all within our comfort zone. Now let’s consider young children. This age group experiences significant transitions in summer, which don’t always turn out as expected. They must adjust to a new place – which typically includes new faces, ground rules, schedules, activities, procedures, and even new foods! The irony is that young children are just learning how to navigate and manage transitions, AND often endure life changing transitions.

Examples of summer transitions include:
  • Change from nanny to daycare.
  • First time attending a camp.
  • First time going to a class.
  • First separation experience.
  • Same camp but different class and counselor.
  • Developmental changes that affect sleep, naps, toileting.

As parents, we expect camp will be fun-filled and our children will eagerly jump right into the messiness of water and paint. The reality is that many children need time to warm up and don’t spontaneously have the confidence to explore the environment, connect with others, or advocate for needs.

The good news is that we can prepare our children to better manage these transitions, which in turn makes for easier mornings and goodbyes. And I don’t just mean telling the child what is going to happen. Young children benefit from concrete experiences – hearing, seeing, practicing, visualizing, and any other way they can relate to the new experience.

Things to try the days leading up to camp?

  • Look at photos from the website - typically smiling children are featured.
  • Have your child try on camp clothing – bathing suit, sandals, or a sun hat.
  • Schedule a visit or Facetime with your child’s camp counselor.
Email [email protected] for Liz's video recording with more tips!

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