Is Your Child Ready for Overnight Camp?

Is your child ready for overnight camp

Article by: Kimberley Fowler, with files from Lisa Van de Ven, Sharon Aschaiek and Annette Bourdeau for OurKids.net, Canada’s trusted source for camps and schools.

Whether the idea of your child going away to an overnight summer camp for a week excites you or makes you nervous you’ll want to consider whether they are ready and what the real benefits of an overnight camp are for young children.

There is simply no right age for a child to attend overnight camp. You can find programs out there for children as young as four. Every child is different and some may be emotionally ready to attend camp earlier than others. Answering the following questions will help you decide if your child is ready for overnight camp:

  • Is your child comfortable attending sleepovers?
  • Can your child wash and dress independently, and keep track of his or her belongings?
  • Does your child have a friend or relative attending the camp during the same session?
  • Is your child flexible about new routines, like coping with mealtime away from home or being exposed to unfamiliar food?
  • Whose idea is it to go to camp?

The following situations are a sign that your child may not be ready for an overnight camp:

  • If your child is emotionally insecure or if major changes are underway at home.
  • If your child has difficulty sleeping through the night, it’s likely best to wait until a regular sleep pattern is well established.
  • If your child wets the bed, explain that he or she is not alone and that most camps offer help, support and discreet handling of this issue, then speak with the camp director.

The Benefits of Overnight Camp

Learning to work together in groups and on teams to solve a problem or achieve a common goal is at the core of any educational curriculum, and is also at the heart of camp programming.

Licensed psychologist Mary Polychronas has spent 20 years working with teachers and students in the private and public school sectors, and is a staff psychologist at Weston School, a combined elementary and secondary school in Montreal.
Polychronas believes that children clearly have different needs at various points in their development. The toddler years are a time of rapid growth and exploration, but she thinks the critical years for the best-quality learning environment start in Kindergarten and continue through primary school. “I find those years are crucial. This is when children are developing their learning styles and learning habits”. Polychronas goes on to say that the more outings and extracurricular activities you can get a toddler involved in the better. These experiences, like the ones provided through camp, provide more chances for young learners to explore the world around them.

Jeff Bradshaw, former president of the Canadian Camping Association, believes in the importance of the social skills learned at overnight camp. “Each day is full of activities that require co-operation, such as crewing a sailboat, paddling a canoe, building a campfire or pitching a tent. Children learn to share living space, a bag of marshmallows and their counselor’s attention. They learn skills that lead to tolerating differences, reaching consensus and celebrating achievements.”

In 2005, the University of Toronto conducted a study on overnight summer camps, which confirms these social benefits and cites others, including an improved self-image, appreciation of socio-cultural diversity and increased respect for the environment.

There is certainly no question that if your child is ready, overnight camp can provide life-long social skills that will help them now and in years to come.

Explore the choices and discover just how amazing the benefits of camp can be for your child at www.ourkids.net/camp!

Get more great tips from our friends at Our Kids Net by checking out their previous article on Mums ‘n Chums: Key Steps to Choosing a Camp

 

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I founded Mums 'n Chums in 2009 after realizing that the area I live in was drastically underserviced as compared to surrounding areas for support and activities for growing families. Mums 'n Chums grew popular very quickly and I have been dedicated to nurturing that growth through frequent networking, social media engagement and in person meetups. By the end of its first year, Mums 'n Chums had close to 500 members and was receiving regular inquiries from fans outside of its service area, asking when we would be expanding to serve them as well. After much careful research and polling, I expanded the site in May of 2011 to cover the entire North end of the GTA (from Cambridge to Markham), areas I believe are still receiving far less attention than they deserve from other sites and family services. We also changed the focus from small scale local mom and tot meetups to more of an informative purpose, closing down our forum and adding several talented contributors to the blog. We do still offer several large scale family events per year, such as our popular Birthday Bash events and our Holiday Bash in December. Our contests have also become a member favourite, and we strive to offer amazing prizes from trusted brands like Babies R Us, La Roche Posay, Johnson's Baby and many more. In March of 2016, after months of work spent migrating all of the site's content to a new platform, Mums 'n Chums re-launched with its fresh, new look. The changes and expansion have proven a great success and we're still getting inquiries from several other cities within the Greater Toronto Area, whom we have decided to serve as well. I have built this site and its' reputation carefully and look forward to continuing its growth!