Help your child get ready for overnight camp

Congratulations! We are so excited you have chosen to send your child to Gwynn Valley and recognize the significance of the decision you made to enroll your child in overnight camp. Our hope is that each camper will expand their confidence, curiosity and compassion for others. To prepare for a successful camp experience, here are some ways to help your child get ready for overnight camp.

TALK ABOUT HOMESICKNESS WITH YOUR CHILD

Be sure to ask your camper how they’re feeling about camp. Whether excited or anxious (most likely both!), be sure to acknowledge their feelings. Help them pick out a few things that they’re really looking forward to (riding a horse, petting a goat, making new friends, etc.). If they are feeling nervous or anxious, be curious and ask questions to learn exactly what they are concerned about so that you can help them come up with a plan.  

Appropriate pre-camp preparation is the best “medicine” for homesickness. If your child expresses concerns about being homesick, please let them know this is normal and there are people at camp who will help them. Let them know it is important to talk to their counselor when they are missing their family and home. To set your child up for success, don’t tell them you will come pick them up early if homesick. Rather, reassure them that you know they can do this and that you can’t wait for your child to share camp with you on closing day. 

Here’s a wonderful list of Homesickness Do’s and Don’ts from a fellow camp director in California, Audrey Monke. 

HELP US GET TO KNOW YOUR CHILD 

It’s all in the details!  We carefully review the details you share through the camper application and health history form. Please tell us anything you think might be helpful about your camper’s personality. Include friend requests, challenging behaviors, challenges at home, and anything else to help us get to know your child. 

Please be sure to fill out the Health History form as soon as possible and no later than May 1st. This form allows you to share information about allergies, dietary restrictions, medications, and health conditions. It also asks about other important details like bed-wetting, sleepwalking, or recent family changes (ie. a recent marriage, divorce, or death). Sharing this information early on helps us to best support your camper and create a positive camp experience! 

WATCH OUR CAMP VIDEOS

If you haven’t already, check out our new video, GV Favorite Things. Watching this video can help children picture themselves having a great time at camp. While you’re on that page, watch our 2019 session highlights lower down in the Video Gallery to learn more about Gwynn Valley and the camper experience.

PRACTICE SLEEPOVERS

Schedule some sleep-overs with family or friends. Having a few successful experiences sleeping away from home without their parents around will build a child’s confidence and lower the stakes for their first night at camp. 

COME VISIT CAMP

We are happy to provide tours all year round on weekdays or weekends. If you’re going to be in the area or want to make a special trip up for a visit, please call and schedule a tour. We also host an Open House for new camper families every year on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend from 2:00-4:00 when you can visit camp, take a tour, and meet some of our staff.

SPEAK WITH A DIRECTOR

Feel free to give one of our Directors a call to talk through any questions or concerns.  

A Connection to Camp

Although it is early February, we’ve had some beautiful spring weather here at camp with temperatures in the 60s, blue skies, and daffodil shoots pushing up through the ground with their bulbs waiting to open. All these changes in the natural world are reminders that camp is right around the corner, and we are SOOO excited! In just four months, our first campers will arrive for A session and our staff will have just finished a variety of staff training programs. These warm temperatures make us anxiously await all the activity that happens during the summer season.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Video Highlights from each session during the 2019 summer, I recommend it as a great way to get excited about coming to camp in 2020, especially new camper families. Video Highlights offer a peek into the activities at camp and the fun that is had, which may help diminish some of those anxious feelings that all campers experience leading up to the summer season. Our 2019 photo and video team (Liv, Jacob, and Charis) did a wonderful job catching the magic that happens at camp, the smiles and the laughter, the friendships made, the skills learned, and so much more. You can find the video highlights listed by session on our website under the video gallery: https://gwynnvalley.com/who-we-are/video-gallery/. Who knows, maybe you will catch a glimpse of yourselves or our wonderful video team at the Oscars later this month; you never know!  

Each summer, our photo and video team tries to share a glimpse of camp life with our parents and families while their children are at Gwynn Valley. It’s a way for parents who are “camp sick” to get to see snippets of the many activities going on at camp, and to hopefully see their child practicing a newly learned skill, making a new friend, or hanging out with their cabin group. Although we aren’t able to post a photo of every child every day, we do our best to provide families with a link and a connection to camp. 

At the core of what we do, camp creates connections. At Gwynn Valley, we like to say that life begins in the cabin and works outward into program. Making and strengthening authentic friendships is one of the many important skill building opportunities that camp affords to children and teenagers. Community living in the cabin helps create these bonds, which travel out into program and table families. One of the joys of growing older is being able to witness and experience the many strong friendships campers have made throughout the years that have carried into adulthood. We see this in so many of our counselors and staff whose best friends were fellow campers in their cabin or Mountainside adventure group. It’s so amazing to think that this connection to friends and community has been happening since 1935. 

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the 2019 video highlights or to look through the photos from camp with your child, please do! This is a great way for your family to get excited about the summer, talk about friendships made, discuss the challenges overcome, and to experience a connection to camp.