Summer is approaching and it means that camp is right around the corner! Camp is a highlight for us at Keshet every year. We love seeing our campers gain the confidence to try new things, build lifelong connections, and become their best selves with just the right amount of support from staff.
We know that camp is an adjustment for kids and parents. We want to equip you and your camper with some tips that can best set you up for success at camp this summer. We wrote these tips for campers with disabilities, but we believe that these suggestions are useful for all campers and parents.
1. Attend any tours or orientation activities the camp is offering
Getting a sense of the people and the place will make the experience feel more familiar. Visiting camp before it starts and attending any meet your counselor events are both great ways to get acclimated to what camp will be like. If this isn’t possible, look at photos and videos together on the camp website or see if you can schedule a phone call to meet your counselors virtually.
2. Review the camp schedule ahead of time
Your camp is likely to offer a variety of materials for you to review prior to camp beginning, including a daily schedule of activities and calendar of special events. Make sure to explain to your child that while this is the schedule, it also can change. Be sure to look for any times where you think there could be a difficult transition or challenge for your camper. If necessary, reach out to camp staff with any concerns or strategies you can offer about this.
3. Use social stories to help with the transition
The transition from school to camp can be tough. Creating a social story that specifically addresses the different scenarios and challenges related to camp would help reduce anxiety and feel more prepared for what’s to come.
Click on this link to see a social story we’ve created for Keshet’s campers, but can be used for pretty much any day camp. Feel free to print this out or share with anyone that it may be useful for!
4. Help your camper pack their backpack so they know what they have
Another way to make sure that your camper is prepared for the summer ahead is to help them pack their backpack, pick out their clothes and do any other necessary rituals prior to the camp day beginning. These will all help campers make sure that they are equipped with what they need and know where to find their belongings.
5. Talk out and reassure any concerns your camper may have about the upcoming summer. Be positive, but don’t overpromise!
It is normal for all kids to be nervous about camp starting even if they have been there before. Every summer can bring about different challenges and experiences. It’s important for you to remain optimistic for your child without creating unrealistic expectations. Rather than saying “I know you are going to have the best summer ever,” focus on the facts. Remind them of their favorite activities that they will get to do or to look out for a friend they may already know that will be there. And, of course, continue to emphasize that the staff are there to make sure that you are safe and having fun and will communicate with you about any issues.
BONUS: Ensure that camp staff are aware of all of your camper’s needs and accommodations
Your child’s camp’s number one goal is to make sure that all campers feel supported and are successful. Oftentimes, parents may be hesitant to not share the full truth about their child in fear of being labeled or not accepted. However, it is in your best interest to be open and honest with them about your child’s needs. Don’t hesitate to share all the information that you think is necessary with your child’s counselors, directors and camp staff. Any insight and strategies are extremely valuable and welcomed. Having open communication and a strong partnership between parents and the camp staff will undoubtedly make for a successful camp experience for everyone involved.
We hope that these tips and resources will help you and your child feel more prepared for the summer ahead. The success of our campers is of the utmost importance to us, and we hope to do whatever we can to help them have a successful camp experience. We can’t wait to see how wonderful this year will be for all of Keshet’s campers and staff. Summer 2023, here we come!