The first day of camp can be daunting for any child (and parent!). Like most kids, your child might be feeling hesitant to go somewhere new and meet people they have never met before. The good news is, we have a few tricks up our sleeve to help you minimize the stress and help your child prepare for their first day of camp.
#1 Let Your Child Know Their Schedule
At Camp Tournesol, we always provide a detailed daily schedule so parents know all of the fun activities planned for their little campers at all times of the day. If your child is attending Camp Tournesol or another camp that provides this hour-by-hour scheduling, take some time to review the schedule for the first day of camp with your child so that they know exactly what to expect. This will make them feel excited and build their anticipation for their very first day of camp.
Is your child a Tournesol camper? You can easily get the activity guide with the hour-by-hour schedule by going to the program page and select the program that your child is attending. Scroll down to the orange section where the daily activity guide is listed and click on the cover page to access the information.
#2 Listen to Your Child’s Worries
Although it might be tempting to quickly reassure your child and move on, it’s important that your child feels like their worries have been heard. Remind your child that what they are feeling is completely normal and that you will be there for them in the unlikely event that any issues arise. If there is a specific worry, do not hesitate to speak to the camp staff in advance and ask them to specifically address the issue so you can explain the procedure to your child. All reputable camps would be happy to work with you on alleviating any of your camper’s fears.
#3 Remind Your Child That They Aren’t Alone
It’s easy for children to forget that they aren’t the only one who feel uneasy about starting camp. Remind them that camp counsellors know and understand that campers are feeling a little anxious and that they will be making an extra effort to make everyone feel comfortable. Find out from your camp what the first hour of camp looks like and how they facilitate bonding and integration of all campers who are not arriving with friends.
#4 Create a Goodbye Ritual
One of the biggest anxieties kids have before their first day of camp is that you’re not coming back. To increase your chances of a tear-free goodbye, try inventing a special parting ritual such as saying something like, “I’ll be back to get you soon, long before we see the moon”, or even a secret handshake! This reassurance minimizes separation anxiety and helps your child enter the camp environment with confidence. Be sure to make a pact in advance that once this ritual occurs, you will leave no matter what. Although leaving is the hardest thing to do for any parent, keep in mind that tears usually subside quickly once you leave!
#5 Don’t Rush Through The Morning
Let’s face it, nobody likes to race through a morning routine. So be sure to get everyone up early enough so you and your child have ample time to eat breakfast, chat, get ready, pack (and even get through a tantrum or two!). You’ll get to camp with ample time to meet their counsellor and get off to a great start! A child that is not rushed is less likely to develop anxiety.
And now, we’d love to hear from you:
Is your child going to camp this summer? What are you doing to get ready for your child’s first day?