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When your Kid Returns

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Welcome Back Home, Campers! 

With the camp season starting to close, now is a good time to assess how the season went. Take some time to ask your child and reflect on the camp stay. Did your child meet the main goals of summer camp? They almost certainly had fun, but can you notice any athletic, artistic, intelligent, or personal growth? What about their social skills? Did they learn from a positive role model? 

Gear
Go through the gear your child brought back from camp. Now is a great time to check over gear while your kid’s stay is still fresh in their head. Ask them what worked and what didn’t… Did anything break? Does anything need its batteries replaced? Does anything need to be repaired? Did your kid understand how to use everything? Did they have everything they needed? 

Guidelines
Do your best to gauge how certain arrangements worked out for everyone. Was the stay too long? Too short? Was the camp too far from home? Too close? Did the travel go smoothly? Did your child attend a coed camp or all single gender camp? Was it the best fit for them? Did your child have the opportunity to do the activities they really wanted to do? Was going to camp with a friend a good idea or not? 

Go Again
Did the summer camp season leave you disappointed and unimpressed? While this certainly isn’t the norm, it’s not unheard of for children to have an unpleasant summer camp experience. However, I cannot stress this next point enough—just because your kid didn’t like their summer camp, doesn’t mean that they don’t like SUMMER CAMP. 

If you didn’t pick the right camp for your kid, there’s still hope to find a different one that your kid will enjoy next year. Finding a dud camp stinks for that summer visit, but it doesn’t have to ruin summer camp for the remainder of a childhood. 

Be sure to put in further preparation and research on a camp before settling on the right one! Check out ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’ for better guidance on finding a great summer camp. As always, thanks for reading, Camp Folks! 

 

- John


Expect the Unexpected

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Hey, Camp Folks! 

Your kid is going to be coming home from summer camp and I’m sure you’re wondering what their return will be like. Really, there’s no telling what to expect. Summer camp experts, Chris Thurber and Jon Malinowski mention just how unpredictable your children’s behavior can be upon their return in their guidebook ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’. 

Check out what one parent had to say about their child coming back home. Lori C. submitted this to us following the camp season of 2019. Here’s what she had to say about her son’s stay at Camp Westmont: 

My son just came home from camp today and he couldn't stop talking about all the fun he had. From learning to swim at the pool and then being able to swim in the lake. Playing Tennis and on the Ropes Courses. All the friends he had made and what he had accomplished during the summer. Bobby received two awards from camp. One was the kindness award for his bunk division and the other was an award for swimming. Before camp started my son had a very hard time trying to learn how to swim, but the staff at camp helped him be less fearful and he learned! He was very fearful of almost everything he did or didn't want to do. But as he's telling me everything he did at camp this summer, I am very grateful for the experience he has gained. He said he rides when they went on their trips, he learned to ride his bike without training wheels, he climbed the rock wall, and I was told by one of his group leaders that he is one of the best tennis players in his division! Again I am very grateful for this opportunity that he had. He can't stop talking about this summer and is already talking about going back to Camp Westmont next year!” 

Hopefully your camper enjoyed the summer camp experience as much as Bobby. Peruse the rest of our submissions from summer campers throughout the years by clicking right here and, as always, thanks for reading! 

 

- John


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


Summer's Going Swimmingly

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Hey, Swimmers! 

Swimming is easily the #1 activity of choice for summer campers all over the country. After all, few activities bring you the refreshing splash that epitomizes the summer season the way Swimming does. While this activity is incredibly fun and loved by many, it does have the potential of danger for inexperienced swimmers. Be sure to go over these basic water safety tips before heading off to camp! 

Of course any good camp sees to that their campers follow essential safety swimming practices. They categorize swimmers and place them in appropriate instruction groups and water depths. They set swimmers up in buddy pairs. And they have likely trained all their staff in emergency water rescue. 

That being said, mistakes can happen anywhere. Camps are doing their part to keep your campers safe. Do your part by sitting down with your camper and going over basic water safety to ensure their safety in the water at camp. 

In Good Company
Playing in the water is fun, but should never be enjoyed alone. Teach your child to swim in buddy pairs and that there must always be a properly-trained adult lifeguard present. 

Swimming Lessons
Teach your child to swim. Even the youngest day campers can learn to swim. Before the camp season starts, bring your child to some lessons at the local municipal pool, YMCA, or club. Children will likely become better swimmers at camp, but learning basics prior to camp is a plus. 

Best Behavior
Reinforce your expectation that your son or daughter will follow all of the camp’s aquatic rules, such as: No Diving in Shallow Water, No Running on the Dock or Deck, Always Wear a Life Jacket in Boats, etc. 

Make sure to instill these means of safety so that your camper can have some good, safe fun in the water at camp! Make a splash, kids! As always, thanks for reading and happy camping! 

 

- John


Make a Wish!

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Hey, Birthday Boys and Girls! 

If your child’s birthday happens to land during the time they’ll be away on their summer stay for camp, no sweat! Just make sure you plan in advance for the occasion. You can simply bump the birthday celebration ahead and have it at home before camp, postpone it and celebrate at home after camp, arrange for your child’s birthday to be celebrated at camp, or go with a combination of these options… 

Birthdays at Home
You probably don’t want to miss out the celebration of your child’s birthday. And your child probably wants to celebrate with family as opposed to fresh friends from summer camp. Celebrating at home means your whole family can get together and celebrate without restriction—throw a party, have a special dinner, give lots of gifts, etc. 

Birthdays at Camp
Most summer camps are prepared to whip up a birthday cake and serve ice cream for your child along with some cabin mates. Maybe your camp will simply sing Happy Birthday to your camper in the dining hall. If you find out ahead of time what birthday celebrations at your camp look like, make sure your camper understands the plan so there isn’t any disappointment. 

Gifts at Camp
Your kid will love a gift on their actual birthday during their camp stay. Things that would otherwise go in a care package maker great gifts. Save anything too big or expensive for before or after camp—you wouldn’t want it lost, stolen, or broken at camp. You also need to take care not to make your camper’s cabin mates jealous. Stick to gifts that your camper can share and send a birthday card with a note to remind your child of their other gift at home. 

Check all your boxes to make sure that this upcoming summer camp season is awesome for your child and make sure they feel special on their big day! Have a great camp season, folks. As always, thanks for reading. And happy camping! 

 

- John