Going to Camp

July 31, 2017

This past week Maddox went to day camp for the first time! He starts at a preschool nearby in August, and we thought going to a one-week camp would be a perfect transition for him. It was such a hit!

I wanted to share because I often get questions about attachment parenting and it being associated with peoples’ misconception that it makes kids too attached to their parents. Some believe it results in shy, fearful, unhealthy attachments where kids are afraid to leave the parents side. I can definitely attest that that is not the case. I truly believe it’s actually quite the opposite. In my experience attachment parenting builds confidence in kids because they know that their parents are always there for them to answer their needs. It starts from the most basic needs as a baby, answering their cries (read my original post about attachment parenting here). So while I do want to talk about a few very specific things we did to make camp a smooth experience, I do believe we started “preparing” him for camp way before, by building his confidence so he could tackle new places and experiences with ease.

Now to elaborate on the specific steps we took to prepare Maddox for camp. Going to a new, unfamiliar place can always be somewhat scary for kids. I am by no means an expert, but here are a few quick things I felt helped with the transition.

  1.  We briefly and casually mentioned starting camp for a week or so leading up to camp beginning. No big discussions or long talks, just causal mentions. We also talked about how much fun it would be. We would casually say things like “oh man you’re gonna have so much fun.”
  2. I found a kids show on tv all about kids at camp. We watched it together and talked about how fun it seemed and what the kids were doing.
  3. Dad did drop off. Partially because the camp was where he worked. But I chose not to go in the mornings because I felt like it would be a little easier for him to detach and easily go to camp with dad than it would’ve been from me. I tend to be a little more of a comfort zone and there may have been a little hesitation to leave if I had gone. Maybe not. But just in case. If maddox had asked or wanted me to go I of course would have. Plus dad got to do fun “boys truck ride” (as Maddox calls it) where they stopped for Starbucks and Chick-fil-A in the mornings, played loud music, and we’re all around crazy on the way to camp.
  4. If there’s anyway that there is a friend at the camp that always helps. This wasn’t the case for us but my husband’s nephew was in town and was also attending a camp at the same location. In the mornings they got to all ride together. So while they were not at the same camp, there was still the excitement of going to camp together. If you have someone around the same age that can be in the camp with your child I think that would definitely be a huge help too. Just gives them a familiar face in an unfamiliar situation.
  5. When it doubt, Buy something fun! 😂 I’m by no means saying you need to buy something fun all the time to help ease any kind of fear, because we know that could create some bad habits. But I know how much I enjoy getting something new. (It’s kind of like back to school shopping was as a kid.) So we kept it small and we got Maddox a brand-new lunchbox to take his lunch camp. He picked out an awesome Power Rangers one.

Every child is different, and every family situation is different.  But I definitely feel that helping your child anticipate having a good experience increases the odds that they will. Plan ahead and you can find the ways to make your child feel more comfortable in this new situation.

Do you have any other tips that helped with you kids? If so, I’d love to hear them!

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