Is Your Child Ready for Overnight Camp?

Children and education, young woman at work as educator reading book to boys and girls in park

Children and education, young woman at work as educator reading book to boys and girls in park

Summer camp can be such fun for children of all ages. Younger children normally start out going to day camps which are limited to a couple of hours away from home. As they get older, however, they may decide they want to go to an overnight camp. Is your child ready for overnight camp? How can you tell?

Children who have spent the night with friends are generally good candidates for overnight camp. They’ve already been able to spend time away from their parents and will be less likely to call home the day after camp begins to ask Mom or Dad to come pick them up. Of course, each child is an individual so you’ll want to take your child’s personality into consideration as well.

How long has your child spent the night away from home? Children who have spent two to three days with friends or family shouldn’t have any problems being gone that long for camp. And, since camp sessions range in length from one to eight weeks these days, you can choose a shorter camp session for a child who is new to overnight camping.

Christopher Thurber, clinical psychologist and author of The Summer Camp Handbook states, “Kids themselves are the best judge of when they are ready.” He continues, “When they show spontaneous interest in camp, that’s a good clue that the time is right.” In other words, if they bring up the topic of going to camp and mention they’d like to stay overnight, it’s a safe bet they’re up for the challenge.

Does your child have friends who attend overnight camp? Being able to spend time with friends they’re familiar with will also help your child be ready for staying overnight. They’ll want to be brave in front of their friends. Having people they’re familiar and comfortable with may make staying at overnight camp easier for their first year. After their first overnight camp experience, however, they may be willing and eager to try camp away from home and without friends.

Psychologists recommend telling your children it’s alright if they feel homesick when attending overnight camping for the first time. It is perfectly normal for children to think about home, wonder what’s going on without them and miss their family. The chances are that when they become involved in activities throughout the day they’ll be too busy to be homesick for long.

When it comes to knowing if your child is ready for overnight camp there are no hard and fast rules. Each child is an individual. A five year old who has spent the night with grandparents quite often might be able to attend an overnight camp for a week with no problem. The same isn’t necessarily the case for a twelve year old who hasn’t been away from their parents.

Talk to your child about going away to summer camp for a week or two and see how they react. You can look for the perfect overnight camp for your child by searching the website. They can help you find the right summer camp for your child’s first overnight camp experience.