My boys are spending this week at a good, old-fashioned summer camp! Here's some tips for getting them ready for the big adventure...
Finding a camp: I was a camper as a kid and a camp counselor in college. This is an experience I really wanted my kids to have. For many reasons they aren't attending "my" camp. One spot to check when looking for a residence camp is the American Camp Association. The camp I worked at went through the accredidation process one year and this is a group I trust. There are so many different camps out there that it's also important to consider the interests of your child and the length of stay. My boys are staying for 4 nights, but the camp they're attending also has 7 and 14-night options.
Packing: We followed the camp packing list, and it turned into a pretty hefty bag. I had the boys located each item on the list and pack their own bags with my support. This way they know what they have and they've also practiced packing. We also labeled as much as was possible. They're not boys who are typically tidy so this will help when they pack to come home. I reinforced the rule that nothing irreplaceable goes to camp and nothing that can't get dirty gets packed. (Even so, we have a bet about the number of items that are lost!)
Letters: A huge part of the camp experience is receiving mail. I made sure to send each boy a letter several days before they left. Their grandparents also have the camp address and sent mail. Camp offers "Bunk Notes", an option to send a daily email to your camper. I thought envelopes and cards were more personal but the email would be easier. The boys also asked for envelopes and stamps to send letters home. Aiden's arrived today, "Dear Mom and Dad. I am haveen so much fun! Love Aiden"
Cameras: Each boy has a disposable water proof camera in their bags. I am hoping there will be a few good pictures so that I can put together a small photo album for each of them.
Mom: Finally...this is the first time my children have left me. The first day they were gone my husband was also on a 24 hour shift. My house got very lonely. Fortunately, my husband and I had an overnight trio planned to a nice hotel with a fancy dinner out. Make sure you have something planned to fill the time when the kids are gone!
What summer experiences are new for your kids this year? How are you handling more independent kids?