Another important away-from-home event for parents to address with their kids is when they go to their first overnight camp. This can often last for a whole week. Again, it seems as if most parents handle this well; but I offer my comments for those who might be seeking some assistance.
I think the first thing a parent can do to prepare their child for a first camp stay, is to call the Camp Director to get advice about what they encounter with first time campers. First-time kids especially might become homesick and cry for their parents; a few may even say they want to go home. How does the Camp handle these issues when they arise? What advice would the Camp Director give a parent to prepare a first-time child for camp?
There are a couple of common sense things I can also offer. First, get in the habit of letting your child spend a couple of days away from home to stay with a relative that you are comfortable with. Do this a few times before camp as the time draws near. Second, if you have access to a local campground, take your child and camp outdoors for a few days. If that is not available, pitch a tent in the back yard and have your child spend a night or two sleeping in the tent with a sibling or a friend. Make sure adult supervision is close at hand. Finally, speak with your parish priest or other parents in the parish as they may have better suggestions to offer on this topic.
This is a good time to listen to your kids and ask them what they think about going to camp. Let them verbalize any concerns or fears they might have. Help them figure out how they can cope and manage these emotions so that they don’t get the best of them.
On this last day of the year, I wish you a Happy New Year.
Christ is born!
The unworthy +Paul