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Deciding When a Child Can go to Camp

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

With spring approaching it is now the time to “spring forward” and think about summer camp. I know it seems early, but many camps are already registering children and have been planning the summer over the last nine months.

How do you know if your child is ready for summer camp? It is probably best to start your child off with a day camp in your area. Most of those camps begin around the age of five to six years, and are close enough for your child to commute to camp. This is good first exposure to camp activities such as swimming, outdoor sports, crafts and camp meals for lunch. Many children will enjoy day camp so much and be ready to move on to “spend the night” camp by the time they are between seven and 16 years of age.

In my experience looking for camp was like looking for schools. Lots of information may be gathered from friends, other campers and camp videos brought to your city to market camps. Once you get on one mailing list you may find that you start getting several mailings from other camps. There are camps that emphasize sports, water activities, horseback riding and even foreign languages. Camp is not one size fits all.

Ask your child if they are ready to go away to camp? What are they looking for in a camp? Do they know other kids who have gone to camp that they may speak with? As a parent, ask yourself the same questions. Has your child spent the night away from home before? What things as a parent are you looking for in a camp? Did you go to a camp that is a tradition in your family? Then sit down together with the information at hand and decide on a few camps that meet everyone’s needs. If possible it is fun to go visit a camp, but in same cases they are far away and this is not possible. The more information you have the better! For a younger child you may start with a one-week camp and for older children or a more experienced camper, camps may last up to 4 – 6 weeks.

Now that you are on the camp quest, we will talk about getting ready for camp and what to pack etc before the summer. Last job is just paying for it!!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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