#180 Title:

Off to Summer Camp

Special Guest: Peg Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the American Camp Association

Description: We all want happy campers this summer. Peg Smith, Executive Officer of the American Camp Association, offers expert advice on readiness for camp, how to enhance the camp experience for children, coping with homesickness and other issues of importance to families who are sending their young ones off to camp!

Duration: 41:26

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Show Index:
00:24 Intro: Off to Summer Camp
02:05 Tips for Readiness
06:48 Coping with Homesickness
13:10 Listener: Set Camp "Rules"
16:48 Summer Camp Resources
18:28 All About Camps
24:35 Helping Kids Plan & Pack
28:40 Listener: Sending Siblings to Camp
32:16 Maximize the Camp Experience
38:56 Closing Comments
40:25 Closing Track: Thao Music

Special Guest:

Music Spotlight:
rss Music: Thao Music
rss Tracks: Swimming Pools

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About Peg Smith

Peg Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the American Camp Association® (ACA) in Martinsville Indiana, with twenty-six years experience working with children, youth, and families, is widely recognized for her entrepreneurial work style and organizational capacity—and her ability to move people, organizations, and government agencies through significant change. Read more.

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About ACA

The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards.

Families can ACA’s comprehensive summer camp resource for families at www.CampParents.org. This site offers expert advice from camp professionals on camp selection, readiness, child and youth development, and issues of importance to families. In addition, families can use the ultimate camp planner and ACA’s Find A Camp search to plan their perfect camp experience.

Gauging Your Child's Readiness for Camp

Answering these questions will help you determine when your child is ready for camp.

• What is your child's age? Children under age 7 may not adjust easily to being away from home. Consider the day camp experience to prepare them for future overnight camp.

• How did your child become interested in camp? Does your child talk about camp and camp activities on a sustained basis? How much persuasion is necessary from you?

• Has your child had positive overnight experiences away from home? Visiting relatives or friends? Were these separations easy or difficult?

• What does your child expect to do at camp? Learning about the camp experience ahead of time allows you to create positive expectations.

• Are you able to share consistent and positive messages about camp? Your confidence in a positive experience will be contagious.


Ten Tips to Help Heal Homesickness

As summer begins, millions of children head to summer camp - eager, excited, and…homesick?  Research indicates that homesickness is the norm, and not the exception. It is common for campers to feel a tinge of homesickness at some point during the camp session.

So, how can parents help? By exercising a little preparation and patience, parents can help ease any homesickness in their otherwise happy campers. The American Camp Association® (ACA) recommends the following ten tips parents can use to help their child deal with homesickness at camp:

1. Encourage your child's independence throughout the year. Practice separations, such as sleepovers at a friend's house, can simulate the camp environment.

2. Involve your child in the process of choosing a camp. The more that the child owns the decision, the more comfortable the child will feel being at camp.

3. Discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.

4. Reach an agreement ahead of time on calling each other. If your child's camp has a no-phone-calls policy, honor it.

5. Send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, you can say "I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp."

6. Don't bribe. Linking a successful stay at camp to a material object sends the wrong message. The reward should be your child's new found confidence and independence.

7. Pack a personal item from home, such as a stuffed animal.

8. Avoid the temptation to take the child home early. If a "rescue call" comes from the child, offer calm reassurance and put the time frame into perspective.

9. Talk candidly with the camp director to obtain his/her perspective on your child's adjustment.

10. Don't feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.

Most of all, parents should trust their instincts. While most incidents of homesickness will pass in a day or two, approximately 7 percent of the cases are severe.

If your child is not eating or sleeping because of anxiety or depression, parents should work with the camp director and other camp staff to evaluate the situation. Remember, camp staff are trained to ease homesickness. However, don't make your child feel like a failure if their stay at camp is cut short. Focus on the positive and encourage your child to try camp again next year.

Camping Resources

Afterschool Alliance
The Afterschool Alliance is working to ensure that all children have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs. Afterschool programs are critical to children and families today, yet the need for programs is far from being met.

Ultimate Camp Resource
Free online guide to hundreds of camp activities, camp staff tips & tricks, and all things camp!

A Healthy Camp Starts at Home
Here are some things you can do to assure your child has a great summer camp experience.

Deciding if Camp Should be a Sibling Experience
if you have two or more children in your household the biggest decision looking ahead to this summer may be "Do I send one or all of them to camp?"

How to Help Your Child Have a Great Time at Camp
A summer at camp is often perceived as a respite from the strains of everyday family life and the pressures and tensions of school. To help your child have a successful time at camp this summer...

Tips for Parents Sending Kids to Summer Camps
If your child is going to overnight camp this summer, you may wonder how to handle certain situations that may arise. Barbara Davis of the American Camping Association offers the following guidelines for parents.

Coping with First-Time Camp Experiences
Following are helpful tips to consider as you ask yourself, "Who's going through separation anxiety, me or my child?"

Packing Tips

Did you remember the bug spray, lip balm, sunglasses, mattress pad and laundry bag? For a complete list of items to pack, read ACA’s checklist here.