With so many summer camps to choose from, picking the right one can be a challenge – especially if your child is resisting going to camp at all.
Find out what kind of camp experience they would like to have. Some kids take to sports camps; some are suited to a less performance-based experience. Some are excited to go to sleepover camp, and others the same age are fearful.
“Honor them as the expert about what’s right for them,” Dr. Weyand said.
You also want to strike that balance and know when to push back against anxieties. “I never recommend allowing anxiety to make the decision,” she said.
Here are her tips for picking the right camp:
- Talk to other parents. They are often the best resource of inside information. Camps should provide references, too. Do your homework. Check out online reviews.
- If your child has special needs, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor.
“I advise parents to be honest with themselves about what would be good for their child with special needs, and to make sure the camp is prepared to manage any particular medical, emotional or behavioral needs,” Dr. Weyand said.
- Remember that separation anxiety is normal for younger children, and also normal to an extent for school-age kids. But if your child is especially worried or has a diagnosed anxiety disorder, you should meet with staff and make a site visit with your child before starting camp.
“The staff’s willingness to allow for that may be a very good indicator if the camp is a good fit,” Dr. Weyand said.
- If your child has not been to camp, it’s often best to start with a day camp before trying an overnight camp.
- Recognize that some kids resist summer camp because they fancy an unstructured, carefree summer.
“They may want to stay up late and be on screens all day, but that’s not what’s best for them,” Dr. Weyand said. “Camps are good for kids physically and emotionally. It’s good for them to have structure in the summer.”