Help Your Child Get Ready for Camp

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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 camp. Our goal is to partner with families to help your camper have a fun, enriching, and positive camp experience. Besides having fun, camp provides children the opportunity to develop personal independence, cooperative skills, resilience, and confidence. Here are some ways you can help your child get ready for camp so that they have a successful experience. 

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.  Please feel free to reach out to one of our directors to discuss strategies or if you or your camper has questions.

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 counselors, Head Counselor or a Director when they are missing their family and home. To set your child up for success, it is important that you 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. 

You will notice that on our health form and application we ask you for certain specific, personal information about your child. In some cases it may be about allergies, medications or medical conditions, and in other cases it may be about your child’s hobbies, interests and temperament. We ask for this information to make sure we are prepared for your child in every way so they have the smoothest transition to camp possible. 

Once you share information with us, we will share it only with the people who will have direct contact with your child. This may be our medical staff, the Head Counselor, Kitchen Manager, or your child’s counselors. If you have any special concerns about confidentiality, please let us know so we can sort them out together. If your child is worried about privacy, reassure them that other campers will not know and only the adults who can help will know. 

If your child is on a medication and you are planning to or have made a change in that medication any time up to six weeks before camp, or are planning to take your child off of their medication during camp, please call to let us know so that we can talk about the best way to set your child up for success.

WATCH OUR CAMP VIDEOS

If you haven’t already, check out our Video Gallery. Watching these videos can help children picture themselves having a great time at camp. A Day in the Life of a Camper video shows some cabin, dining room, and general activity shots. There are short videos about our core values as well as session highlights which show snippets of the Gwynn Valley 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 in the off-season 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 a Saturday in May 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.