How to prepare for a School Camp

Camps are a great opportunity to get away from the classroom for a few days, try out new activities, have fun and build new friendships. Preparing for the camp together with your child ensures that the time away is not overshadowed by concerns and worries. Whilst some students may bound off to camp with barely a backward glance, many children will need some extra help to see past their worries and to the fun.

We have put together a leaflet for you to help with the preparation.

Click below to download:

Some common concerns about camp include:

  • Sleeping away from home in an unfamiliar place
  • Responsibility for self-care in the absence of parents
  • Who they will share a room with
  • Whether they will like the food
  • Feeling homesick or lonely

These are all very natural concerns for a child, no matter if it is their first or tenth time at camp. The good news is that there are many things that we can do as parents in the lead up to camp that will help our child enjoy the experience.

Firstly, it’s good to remind children that besides all the fun things that will happen at camp, there are also many opportunities for growth and development such as: 

  • Social and teamwork skills as children connect across the entire year level
  • Independence as children take more responsibility for their own self-care
  • Practical life skills as they engage in a range of activities.
  • Building resilience and self-confidence as they overcome challenges

What practical steps can you take to prepare your child, so they too can benefit from all that camp has to offer?

Practice sleepovers:

Your child is much more likely to feel positively about sleeping away from home if they have had success doing so in the past.  Arrange sleepovers at a friend or relative’s home in the lead up to camp time and continue doing so until your child is confident in their ability to sleep well when away from home and Mum and Dad.

Gather information:

Find out as much as you can about the camp.  Ask the teacher for the camp schedule, look at camp brochures or websites.  Also ask an older child to talk about the fun of camp.

Find a friend:

Buddy your child up with a close friend or ask your child’s teacher for help with this.  Although a confident friend may suit your child, sometimes it is a child who has similar concerns who may be best matched to your child. Friends are big fear beaters!  

Make packing fun:

Let your child be responsible for planning, gathering and checking off items that are needed for camp.  If there are things that need to be purchased, turn it into a fun shopping trip. Having your child pack their own bag also ensures they know what is in it and where to find things.

Pack something special:

It may be of comfort to your child to take along a special little something. A soft toy, a photo of family or a note written by you. Whatever may help ease the separation is perfectly fine. If needed, mention this to your child’s teacher so that they are aware of what is being taken along.

Practice independence skills at home:

Build your child’s confidence in their ability to care for themselves by practicing self-care skills. Can they dress and undress themselves in the clothes they will be taking to camp? Can they shower (most camps do not have baths) themselves safely, turning the hot water on last and off first? Can they brush and wash their own hair – particularly relevant for girls with long hair!

Talk to the teacher:

If there is anything of particular concern for you or your child, talk to their teacher.  It may even pay to write a little note about special concerns or things your child would like their teacher to remember while they are at camp. Remember, teachers are very likely to have taken many children to camp in the past and are best placed to help alleviate concerns. 

Be positive:

Talk about camp in a positive way. Tell your child that you think they are ready for camp – point out practical things they can do for themselves.  Keep talking about the fun experiences of camp and let them know how much you are looking forward to hearing about camp when they return. 

Your child will go on many school camps throughout their school years. Hopefully these tips will help make camp a happy and enjoyable time for your child.