We've compiled a list of ten frequently asked questions that parents and new campers often have. We hope you find them helpful. If you have specific questions, don't hesitate to contact the camps.
It can be very scary, especially if you're shy, going to camp when you don't have any friends going with you. One of the great things about summer camp is that you will get to know a TON of people! You may not have any good friends going to camp with you, but you will leave camp with some great new friends! Remember that there are lots of other campers who will be in the same boat when they arrive, and that you're not alone in feeling a little nervous.
Also remember that the camp staff has worked hard to make a fun program where everyone can participate and get to know one another and ensure that no one is left out. A good thing to do is to visit the website of the camp you're attending. Lots of camp websites have pictures and videos of camp. Looking at them and seeing how much fun everyone is having and realizing that only a few days before most of them didn't even know each other can really help calm any nerves and make you more excited about getting to camp. Lastly, always remember that the counselors are there for you if you have any concerns or need someone to talk to. Happy camping!
What if I have an "accident"?
If you're going to camp with the fear that you might have an "accident", know you are not alone. It's important for families to understand that camp can be enjoyed without the constant worries of nighttime accidents. Be sure to indicate on your camp registration that accidents are a potential issue and talk to the camp director and your child's counsellor to help them understand your concerns. They can remind your child of things they can do to help prevent bedwetting, such as not drinking for 2 hours before bed, avoiding caffeinated drinks, and using the bathroom before turning in. Most camps are very informed and experienced in dealing with this.
You should also know that there are lots of tips and tricks to dealing with the situation, should it arise. When arriving at camp, it might be wise to go early enough to have your choice of beds so that you can claim a bottom bunk. This can be helpful if you need to leave quickly to go to the bathroom. You should also pack extra pyjamas and underpants and make sure they're within reach of your bed or right under your bunk. It's always a good idea to have large ziplock plastic bags so you can discreetly store any wet clothes if you have to change in the night.
There are things you can do pre-camp as well and it's good to be prepared with a plan ahead of time. Knowing that you've taken precautions and are prepared for any accidents can help reduce any stress surrounding the subject and boost confidence. For more information on preparing for camp and dealing with accidents discreetly, click here.
What if someone is bullying me? (or a friend?)
Firstly, you should know that counselors and directors are available, able, and willing to intervene if something goes wrong.
There are a variety of ways counselors can directly engage children in bullying prevention. Cabin chats, all-camp meetings, and campfire talks are ideal situations for campers and counselors to establish rules that promote respect, and discuss concerns about bullying behaviors or incidents. Directors and counselors may also set time aside to talk privately with children who may be targets of bullying or who may be participating in bullying. These approaches and activities will increase everyone's commitment to and responsibility for creating an environment that discourages bullying behaviors and encourage positive, supportive interactions.
If you are fear you may get bullied, click here for ideas of some things you can do. These tips go for camp, school, or anywhere.
Can I bring my cell phone?
by Allison O'Leary Murray
With all the electronics kids have these days, from iPods and personal CD players to Gameboys and cell phones, parents should inquire about a camp's policy on these devices. Cell phone use, in particular, might raise concerns about a camper's independence away from home.
"Those that allow cell phone use would be in the minority of camps," says Lucy Norville of the American Camp Association. She notes that many camps are simply out of range for most cell phone use, anyway. Some camps allow periodic phone calls from parents on traditional land-line phones, or will print out e-mails from home and distribute them like mail, but others don't allow non-emergency contact because they want to encourage a camper's adjustment and to discourage interruptions.
What should I bring to camp?
What you should take with you to camp is going to vary a little bit depending on what camp you're attending and what activities you will be doing. Some camps have this information available on their website or will provide you with this information when you register. Here is a list of some of the basics, but check with your camp on what to bring and what to leave at home before you pack. Remember to label your belongings.
What to remember:
Everyones' summer camp packing list should include:
• Swimwear and sleepwear
• Comfortable, loose clothing
• Extra changes of very warm clothes and very cool clothes
• Rain gear
• Sunscreen (or any other UV protection)
• Insect repellant (aka "bug dope")
• Summer hat with a wide brim
• Toiletries such as soap and shampoo, etc.
• Sturdy footwear that can handle rugged terrain
• Several towels
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Refillable water bottle
• Optional items such as cameras, writing supplies, musical instruments, books, games
What to forget:
• Portable MP3 players and other music players
• cellphones, PDAs, etc.
• Expensive items that will devastate your child if they are broken or lost
• Too much money; a modest amount is all that's needed to buy the occasional treat or souvenir at the tuck shop
For a more detailed general packing list, click here.
What if I get homesick?
When you sleep somewhere else - like at summer camp or a friend's house - you know you're in for a fun time. It can be exciting to get away from the same old bed in the same old room in the same old house. And you get to hang out with your friends!
But fun as this is, for some kids being away from home can be scary and sad. They want to go and have fun with their friends, but once they're there, they start to miss their good old bed, their good old parents, and all that everyday stuff at home. It's called being homesick.
It's hard to be homesick because you're caught between two things you want - to have fun with your friends and to be back home where you feel safe. It's also hard because you might feel funny leaving a party or having to call your mom or dad from camp. But don't feel weird. A lot of people get homesick, even grown-ups.
For more of these tips on how to prepare for the possibility of homesickness, or how to deal with it while you're away at camp, click here.
What if I get sick?
If you find yourself not feeling well at camp, you should let someone know like a counselor, director, or the camp nurse. Your counselor can tell you who on staff to see for medical advice or help or take you to that person. It's important to let someone know if you're feeling sick because you want to stay safe and healthy and also make sure others are safe and healthy.
Sometimes campers can become sick at camp from the heat, overexertion, lack of sleep, dehydration, sunburn, or not eating properly. Be sure to take breaks in the shade or somewhere cool, drink lots of water, wear sunblock, get a good night's sleep, and don't forget to eat your vegetables. These tips should help keep you healthy and having fun at camp!
What if I am afraid of bees, water, the dark, etc.?
We all have fears, and that's okay. In fact, being around people with all different fears at camp can be a positive thing because everyone can help each other. Also, the fun of everyone participating together in activities can sometimes help to overcome fears, because you don't have to face them alone.
Remember that if there's anything you're uncomfortable with, you should let someone know. None of your counselors or new friends want you to feel uncomfortable or scared. If you're afraid to walk somewhere alone, ask a buddy; if you're feeling anxiety about the water, tell a counselor. It's your time to have fun at camp, so be sure to tell someone if you're feeling anxious or uncomfortable so they can help to put you at ease and so you can make the best of your camp experience!
Should I bring money to camp?
You probably won't want a lot of money with you at camp. Unless the camp tells you specifically of something you need money for, you will likely only need it for the canteen or tuck shop. Sometimes camps will have t-shirts, hats, sweaters, etc. for sale that you may want to buy, but remember that you can probably get those when your parents come to pick you up. It's a good idea to keep the amount of cash you bring to a minimum just in case. You don't want it to go missing.
If you have special dietary needs, for example allergies, diabetes, lactose intolerance, or are vegetarian, it's important to contact the camp ahead of time to make sure they can accommodate your needs and are prepared for when you arrive. Most camps will accommodate special dietary needs, but always check with them first.