Blog  Guide for Parents of First-Time Campers

Guide for Parents of First-Time Campers

The OSRUI community can’t wait to welcome our first-time campers to camp this summer! Here are some suggestions for making it a great experience for both parents and kids:

  1. Prepare for camp together. Decisions about camp – like what to pack – should be a joint venture, keeping in mind your child’s maturity so they feel like part of the decision-making process. Both the OSRUI Packing List and the Kallah Atid Packing List are available in the OSRUI Family Handbook, which can be found on your CampInTouch Forms Dashboard.
  2. Listen to and talk about concerns. As the first day of camp nears, some children experience uneasiness about going away. Encourage your child to talk about these feelings rather than acting on what you think these feelings may be. Communicate confidence in your child’s ability to handle being away from home. Some children feel that they must choose between being happy and being homesick. Reassure your child that it’s ok and totally normal to be happy and miss home.
  3. Don’t buy a whole new wardrobe. Camp is more rugged than life at home. A child doesn’t need new clothes, and having well-worn clothes and familiar possessions will help ease the transition. (Be careful about sending the irreplaceable stuffed toy or blanket. If you must, sew it inside your child’s sleeping bag, so it won’t get lost.)
  4. Practice camp. Encourage your child to “practice” routines without you: getting ready for bed, picking out clothes, washing up and brushing teeth etc. Talk about what your child should do if they need something; it’s important that campers learn to advocate for themselves.
  5. Don’t make promises about picking up your child early if homesickness becomes an issue. These statements set campers up for failure and send a message that you have no confidence in your child’s ability to cope with adversity. Tell your child: “If you are feeling sad or homesick, talk to your counselor or another adult. And the best way to fight off homesickness is to do something fun and keep busy!”
  6. Communicate in writing. Summer camp offers kids and parents the chance to develop a rarely practiced skill — letter writing. Write as often as you want. Campers love getting mail. Brief notes are great, as are postcards. Resist long letters and make sure your letters are upbeat. It’s fine to write that you miss your child, but don’t include things like “the house is so quiet without out you,” or “I’m so lonely without you.” Avoid sharing bad news or making it sound like you are having too much fun while they are at camp! Do ask lots of questions about what your child is doing at camp. Send a card or letter a few days before the session begins, so it is waiting at Camp before opening day. Parents do have the option of emailing their
    campers through CampInTouch. You will receive more information about this later in the spring. (Campers receive email during daily mail call.)
  7. Send an occasional care package if you wish. Packages are appreciated every now and then, but please don’t send food. We are concerned about allergies, sensitivities and, of course, bugs and critters in the cabin/tent. Instead, send postcards, cartoons, newspaper and magazine articles, comics, game books, stickers, puzzles and other items that can be shared with friends. Campers are limited to one package per week.
  8. Make it easy for your child to write home. Be sure to send stationery and stamps. Including mailing labels or pre-addressed and stamped envelopes will ensure that the letters actually reach you! Your child also will be able to write you on special stationery (that you can print out from your CampInTouch account and send with your child) that will be faxed from the camp office and uploaded directly to your account. You will receive more details about this around June 1st.
  9. Don’t make major changes at home. This is not the time to move to a new neighborhood, sanitize or gut and redecorate your child’s room or get rid of the prized fossilized frog collection. When most kids return from camp, they like to find things exactly as they left them.
  10. Don’t panic if you get a “homesick” letter. Please remember that the letter was written at least the day before, and if it was mailed, several days. Many things may have happened already to alleviate the situation. If your child’s letters contain urgent pleas for you to bring him home, resist the temptation to rush to camp. Avoid making deals, such as “Give camp one more week. If you’re still unhappy, we’ll bring you home.” Please do call camp at 262-567-6277 and leave a message and someone from the Camper Care Team will return your call.
  11. Support your child’s efforts to work out problems with the help of the camp staff. Communicate your love and confidence in your child’s ability to work through difficulties. Overcoming a longing for home, dealing with upsets in the cabin and learning to care for oneself are important challenges to be faced at camp.
  12. Let camp know. The OSRUI team wants to learn all they can about your child before the summer. If you have any specific concerns, please let us know through the Camper Information Form or by reaching out to the camp office. A phone call or email is always welcome!