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Opening Day in 6 Steps

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Hey, Camp Folks 

There certainly is a lot of prep work that goes into summer camp. And all your hard work culminates on this one day—Opening Day of summer camp! Making it to this day is a big win, but you’re not out of the water just yet! In fact, there can be quite a list of tasks to check off. Here are six valuable tips to stay organized and successfully navigate Opening Day: 

1. Make a Travel Plan
The first tip is to add two hours to your travel time so you can make the trip in relaxed, leisurely fashion. With the extra time on your hands, you don’t have to worry about a snag or two. Feel free to make a stop for an extra pillow or toothbrush or anything else you may have forgotten. You could even stop for lunch and enjoy some time together before you get to camp. 

2. Complete Registration
Keep to the time your camp has set for registration; you don’t want to be late and arriving extra early can really interfere with last-minute prep the camp has going on. The registration process includes meeting the directors, settling your camper’s account, getting your cabin/group assigned, talking to medical staff if you need, moving your child’s gear into the cabin, and meeting the staff. 

3. Meet Your Child’s Leader
Sometimes your kid will have more than one cabin leader—get to know at least one of them. Ask them questions about their camping experience, where they are in school, how their summer’s going, and where they’re from. Make sure to tell them a bit about your camper and fill them in on any necessary info like any physical, behavioral, or emotional concerns. You may want to mention anything going on in your child’s life—a grandparent passing, a new pet, change in school, etc. 

4. Address Medical, Behavioral, and Emotional Concerns
If your kid suffers from conditions (like asthma, allergies, injuries, ADHD, sleepwalking, bedwetting, etc.), you and the camp director and the medical staff can decide how the whole camp can best meet your child’s needs. At the very least, the medical staff needs to know about any meds your camper’s on or recently stopped taking. Send prescription meds in their original bottles with dosage instructions. Don’t be afraid to mention private affairs to your camp staff; they handle such matters discreetly. 

5. Allocate Spending Money
Since most camps don’t allow campers to keep cash on them, your camp may ask you to leave money set aside for things like buying items at the camp store, arts & crafts projects, or out-of-camp trips. You’ll get back whatever is leftover at the end of the session. After registration, you can decide as a family how to spend the money. Camp apparel and other paraphernalia make great purchases on Opening Day to help build camp spirit! 

6. Saying Good-Bye
All kids are different, but a lot of campers want their parents to leave as soon as they have moved into their cabin. Other children want their parents to stick around a bit longer. It’s a good plan to decide together what a good amount of time is to hang out before leaving. It’s also wise to discuss beforehand exactly HOW you’ll say goodbye (i.e. a short walk, a hug and a kiss, just a hug, a high-five…) what’s your camper most comfortable with?  

Once you’ve actually said “goodbye” make a decisive departure (lingering or returning unexpectedly after a short time will cause anxiety about when you’re actually leaving). Of course, if your child requests you can stay a little longer, you can. Give them a little more time and then say something like, “We could say goodbye now or in 10 minutes, which sounds better to you?” 

Remember, your sending your kid to camp to gain some independence. It may or may not start right away. Maybe your kid will have no trouble with goodbyes, don’t be upset or surprised if they start making friends right away and express that you don’t need to stick around long. That’s a good sign! Make Opening Day a success and enjoy knowing your child is about to have a fantastic time! 

As always, thanks for reading! 


- John


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