Summer is getting closer, and that means it’s time for camp!
What to Pack?
Have your camper help you pack, advises Barb Rathbun of YMCA Camp Ernst. “They should understand what they are bringing, how it is organized, what the dirty clothes bag is for, etc.” She also advises parents not to be surprised if they come home with plenty of clean clothes, since kids will opt for their favorite shirts and shorts over and over. YMCA Camp Ernst also recommends 19 – 24 gallon size plastic storage containers – not only does it serve as a nightstand, but it’s big enough that things can be re-packed easily and not lost on the cabin floor. Gallon zip bags are great for socks, underwear, and toiletries, or parents may prefer to use a bag for each day of the week if their camper is on the younger side. And pack more than what you think they need. “It’s no fun to put on wet socks, shoes or swimsuits,” says Rathbun, adding that parents should not pack items that must make it home. “The goal is to send everything with the right camper, but mistakes happen.”
Help With Homesickness
If this is your child’s first time at an away camp, chances are good he might feel a little homesick. But no need to worry! “Homesickness is a good thing,” says Mike Peckham, Assistant Director at Camp Rockmont (rockmont.com). “It means camp is working! They need these challenges. And camp is the perfect place to experience them. They’re surrounded by trained staff!” He explains that if kids can work through their homesickness at a young age, it will make things easier for the days when they are older and head off to college or move away from home. The American Camping Association (campparents.org) advises that parents plan ahead for homesickness. Encourage your child’s independence with sleepovers, talk about all the fun they will have at camp (and avoid phrases like “We miss you” in your letters), and know that most cases of homesickness will pass in a day or two.
Plenty of kids will miss camp when they first come home. The ACA offers a few tips to parents on how to beat the “end of camp blues:”
- Have an old favorite for dinner.
- Set up get-togethers with friends they haven’t seen in a while.
- Let kids write, call or email their camp friends (make sure they get addresses and phone numbers before they leave camp).
- Talk about camp and let them relive their favorite memories.
Get more idea and advice from the ACA’s web site at acacamps.org.
The Rest of Summer
Day programs are not only a great, budget-friendly way to introduce children to summer camps, but they are also one of the best ways to fill in any gaps in your kids’ summer calendar. Fortunately, day camps don’t always fill up as quickly as most residential programs do. Great Parks of Hamilton County (greatparks.org) is still taking kids for their many day camps – some of their more popular offerings include Awesome Animals for ages 4 – 5, horse camps for ages 7 – 17, Barnyard Blast at Parky’s Farm for ages 9 – 13, and more. And the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Northern Kentucky (bcmuseum.org) is still accepting registrations for their Summer Camps, including a week of one-day camps in July from which parents can pick and choose. For more day camp options, check out our Directories!