When Do I Send My Child to Kids Summer Camp?

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If only there were a simple one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “When do I send my kid to go camp?”  The reality is that for some families, the “camp or no camp” decision is easy-peasy, while for others it is fraught with emotion and stress. 

Many families have a kid who is overly anxious when it comes to trying anything new.  Sometimes it’s a parent who is wracked with nerves.  How do families in these predicaments know when to “force” the going to summer camp issue, or when to postpone or pass on the experience until a later date?  It might help to consider the various combinations of anxiety and confidence as they relate to the child/parent dynamic.

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Different Child/Parent Dynamics

Anxious Parent / Anxious Kid

Anxiety multiplied by anxiety is guaranteed to produce magnified anxiety.  Parents who are not comfortable with the idea of camp, and who are unable to honestly express confidence in their child’s ability to succeed at camp, will almost certainly find that their kid’s summer camp experience will not succeed. 

When you are unable to summon the confidence that your child can overcome his/her own nerves to succeed at summer camp, then you are experiencing something different from typical first-time camp parent jitters. In this case, wait until one or the other of you overcomes the mutual anxiety. 

When one of you conquers your fears and finds the confidence needed to persuade the other that the experience has the potential to succeed, then that is the right time to bite the proverbial bullet and “make” – or better “let” – your child go to camp. Check out these tips for overcoming your summer camp fears.

Confident Kid / Anxious Parent

When a parent knows that a child has wanted to go to camp for the last couple of summers but has not allowed it, this is prime time to overcome your own parental reluctance. After all, your child is literally telling you it is time. 

Your challenge is to find the determination to give in. This isn’t making your kid go to camp. If you’ve put your child in the position of needing to convince you to let them go to their first kids’ summer camp, then clearly it’s time to let them go! 

Put on your brave face, take measures to overcome your anxiety, express confidence in your child and don’t hold him or her back from one of life’s great adventures. Sign your child up for kids’ summer camp. It is time! They just told you so!

Confident Parent / Anxious Kid

This is a sensitive but solvable situation. If you have an anxious child who steadfastly avoids new experiences, be it summer camp or anything else, and if you believe camp could be a great growth opportunity for your child, then there’s healthy work to be done. 

Parents who are confident about the power of a good camp experience should strive to build confidence in their reluctant campers. Muster your confidence as you search for a summer camp that’s a good fit for your child. If you believe going to camp is a good idea and can confidently present your child with the reasons you know camp will be good for him or her, then camp is probably a good decision. 

If you overcome your fear, your child can overcome their fear, and there is every likelihood that camp will be a positive transformational growth experience – possibly even for both of you! If you feel the situation warrants it, there is no shame in talking to the camp director ahead of time so that the staff is prepared for a potentially challenging camper. 

Camp counselors are trained to work with anxious or challenging campers, and the growth they see in these kids is the frequently most rewarding part of a counselor’s job. Often it is these reluctant campers who have the potential to benefit the most from camp. Overcoming their fears and succeeding at camp can be life-changing. Prepare yourself, your camper, and maybe the camp, but, yes, make your child go to camp!

Confident Kid / Confident Parent

Lucky you. Be thankful. Your child will love camp and have a great experience.

Catalina Island Camps

At Catalina Island Camps, we are prepared to make summer camp a special, memorable experience for your camper and for you! View our program offerings, and learn some tips for setting your child up to be prepared for summer camp!