Child at camp – preparation and tips for homesickness

Camps for children come in many shapes and sizes. From sports and music camps to summer camps and language camps. The range is large and there is something for everyone. The period of camps starts again in the summer period. From Scouting camp, superstructure or group 8 camp, sports camp and so on. As parents, what should you think about when preparing and what if your child is homesick?

child at camp
riding camp Hazelhorst

From what age can children go to camp?

In general, children from 6 or 7 years old can go to camp. There are also special camps for younger children, for example for children from 4 years old. Most of the children go to camp in the upper years for the first time with school. Some schools combine groups 6, 7 and 8 or 7 and 8 with camp. Other schools only do this with group 8.

It is important to prepare children well for a camp. Tell them what to expect and possibly introduce them to other children who also attend the same camp. Also make sure they know how to contact home.

What is useful to take with my child to camp?

What you bring to camp depends on the type of camp and the length of your stay. In general, it is important to bring enough clothes, toiletries, a sleeping bag, possibly a pillow, flashlight, and possibly a personal medication package. The camp will often provide you with a packing list of specific items to bring. Also make sure to mark the clothes and belongings with your name so they don’t get lost.

Some useful items to bring to camp are:

  • Sleeping bag, fitted sheet and pillow
  • Clothing and footwear for different weather conditions and activities
  • Swimwear and towels
  • Toiletries, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and sunscreen
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Personal medication and first aid supplies
  • Water bottle and possibly snacks
  • Books, games and other leisure activities for free time
  • A familiar object, such as a hug or picture of home

It can be helpful to make a checklist of everything your child needs so as not to forget anything. Also check with the camp about any specific items needed for the activities or accommodations.

We are also in the era where most children from the age of 10 have their own telephone. Take a good look at what agreements are made about this. At some camps, telephones are only allowed if this is medically required, for example because your child has diabetes. At other camps they are allowed, but there is a strict policy on the use of the screen and they go downstairs to the charger in the evening. So don’t forget to bring it along.

In addition, some camps allow you to bring a little pocket money. I recommend that you leave other valuables at home. Earplugs, laptops, jewelry, etc. are all unnecessary.

campfire with children
Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA: via pexels

What activities do children do at camp

The activities that children do at camp depend on the type of camp. For example, sports camps often offer activities such as soccer, basketball, and swimming, while nature camps offer activities such as camping, hiking, and canoeing. Other camps may offer activities such as arts and crafts classes, music and theater workshops, science and technology camps, and adventure activities such as rock climbing and ziplining. Usually the camps offer a varied program of activities to suit the interests of all children.

For example, my daughter went to a horse riding camp during the May holiday. In addition to 2 or 3 horse riding lessons and riding in nature every day, there was also a lot of time for fun games, horse care, campfire, barbeque and of course a colorful evening on the last evening! Everyone prepares an act – singing, dancing, acting, making jokes, magic – all kinds of acts are suitable for a colorful evening.

Is a school camp different from a camp with sports?

A school camp is generally different from a sports camp. A school camp often focuses on educational activities and team building among classmates, while a sports camp focuses on improving sports skills and practicing different sports. However, both camps can offer a varied program of activities to keep children busy and entertained. The main difference is that a school camp focuses on stimulating the growth and development of children in an educational environment, while a sports camp focuses on sports and physical activity.

What is Corvee Service?

Corvee service is a term often used at camps. Your child will be assigned tasks at camp to help maintain the camp environment. For example, these can be tasks such as cleaning the dining area, washing dishes, cups and cutlery. Or cleaning up dormitories or collecting garbage. Corvee service is intended to teach children to take responsibility for their environment and to involve them in the maintenance of the camp facilities. It is often a mandatory task for the children at camp. The tasks are rotated so that everyone gets a turn.

Do children eat healthy at camp?

It depends on the specific camp, but generally camps strive to provide healthy and nutritious meals. Many camps employ a dietitian to plan the menu and ensure there are plenty of choices for all participants, including vegetarian or vegan options and allergy-friendly meals. However, it is important to remember that camp meals do not always match the nutritional needs of each individual child, so it is advisable to discuss any specific dietary requirements with the camp beforehand. In addition, it may be helpful to provide healthy snacks and water bottles to ensure that your child receives adequate hydration and nutrients throughout the day.

Most children receive a large bag of candy from their parents at camp. But also think of small packets of rice cakes, fibre-rich biscuits or squeezed fruit.

school camp
Photo by RDNE Stock project: via pexels

Why is camp important for child development

Camp can be important to children’s development for several reasons:

  1. Social Skills: Camp offers children the opportunity to make new friends and learn how to collaborate and communicate with others. This can boost their confidence and help them function better in group settings.
  2. Independence: At camp, children often learn to take on new skills and responsibilities, such as self-care and keeping track of their personal items. This can increase their sense of independence and help them become more confident in their daily lives.
  3. Physical Activity: Camp often offers plenty of physical activities, such as swimming, hiking, sports, and other outdoor activities. This can contribute to children’s physical health and help them develop healthy habits.
  4. Creativity and personal growth: Camp often offers a wide variety of creative activities, such as art, music and drama, that can help children discover and develop their talents. It can also provide a safe environment for personal growth and overcoming challenges.

Overall, camp can be a valuable experience for children’s development and growth in a variety of areas.

What if my child can’t fall asleep in the dark?

If your child has trouble sleeping in the dark, there are some things you can do to help them relax and feel comfortable:

  • Consider providing a night light to help your child feel safe and reassured in the dark.
  • Encourage your child to do relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or visualizing a calming environment.
  • Give your child something familiar, such as a stuffed toy or pillow from home, to help them feel safe and comfortable.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise at camp to ensure they are tired when it’s time to sleep. (trust me they get that movement at camp)
  • Try doing a calming activity before bed, such as reading or meditating, to help your child relax and unwind.

It may also be helpful to discuss the issue with the camp support team in advance so that they are aware and can provide any additional support if needed.

What if my child is homesick

Homesickness is a common problem among children going to camp for the first time. It can help to prepare your child for camp in advance by talking together about what to expect and how to deal with homesickness.

Explain that there is a good chance that your child will miss home. You can miss that and that your child will experience all kinds of fun things at camp that they can tell at home. It can also help to give your child a familiar object, such as a stuffed animal or a picture of home, to comfort them when they are feeling sad. Often the camps also offer guidance and activities to help children deal with homesickness. In addition, it can be reassuring to know that homesickness usually passes on its own after a few days and that many children suffer from it.

If a child is really homesick, they can no longer enjoy camp. They eat badly, stop having fun and sleep badly. If this is the case with your child, you can assume that the camp management has sufficient experience to come to a suitable solution together with the parents.

child at camp labeling things with well-marked

Useful tips for parents

  • Make sure your child is well rested and brings enough clothes.
  • Label clothes and belongings well so that they are easy to find. There are also handy QR stickers to stick on a bicycle, for example.
  • Let your child pack his/her own bag to give confidence and practice independence.
  • Provide any medication and give clear instructions to the guidance.
  • Write a note with kind words and put it in your child’s bag.
  • Make agreements about contact moments and respect the rules of the camp.

And most importantly, wish your child a lot of fun at camp! Enjoy the me-time it gives you and be prepared for a big pile of laundry after the camp!

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