7 ways to get your child ready for school camp

Going to camp is an exciting milestone in school life, but can be met with some anxiety. With a little prep, you can help ensure your child is up for the adventure.

Packing enough clothes and ensuring kids have plenty of clean socks and sunscreen is only one aspect of getting them ready for school camp.

Whether they are travelling a few hours away or are heading interstate, weeks before departure it’s a good idea to get children talking about their time away from home.

Children may become anxious about sleeping arrangements, who they’ll be sharing a room or cabin with, what the food will be like and not liking some of the activities in their schedule.

Being away from home is also a common concern.

Parents can also become a little anxious themselves about the pending separation and need to keep a check on their own emotions, says Derek McCormack, principal specialist at the Raising Children Network.

“If children are a little anxious about the trip and a parent is anxious too, it can feed into a cycle of anxiety so stay calm yourself to support your child,” says Derek.

So how can you prepare your child – and yourself – for school camp?

Talk with your child about what camp will be like and what is going to happen each day.

“Discuss the activities they may be particularly worried about and reassure them,” says Derek.

“Look at the camp website and look at images and photographs of the place where they will be staying to make it real to them.”

Share memories of going on school camp yourself.

Maybe you found something a bit scary or strange so share that with your child but also share the positive things that happened to you on camp.

Help them rehearse their trip

If your child hasn’t slept away from home before, arrange a practice sleepover with a friend or relative in the weeks leading up to camp, so they can get used to sleeping away from home.

Let them open up

“Talk about their anxiety and let your child know that it’s OK to be a little scared,” says Derek.

“Acknowledge that it can be a bit scary to go away from home but reassure them that while they are away, everything will stay the same and everyone will be waiting for them when they return.”

Let them take some comfort

Let them pack a special toy, favourite book or a family photo – so they can take a piece of home with them.

Encourage the experience

Encourage your child to see these few days or the week away as an opportunity to see new things and as an adventure.

Be your child’s advocate

If you have concerns about how your child will cope at school camp, talk to their teacher.

Written by Sarah Marinos.