Preparing for 3.5 Weeks at Camp: Hear What Our Current Parents and Campers Think

Over the years we have learned that some campers and families believe they aren’t quite ready for the leap from 2 weeks at camp to 3.5 weeks at camp. So we contacted some families who have already been through that transition as well as those who are going through that transition currently, as they have some wisdom that just might help some families and campers who are making the shift from 2 to 3.5 weeks at camp. We’ve compiled their advice below.

Help her remember what she enjoyed at camp
“If I were going to make one suggestion to other parents, it would be to talk about all the fun stuff that their daughter enjoyed at camp.” – Karen Gibbs

Talk about the length of 3.5 weeks
“We talked about how 3.5 weeks would allow her to develop her friendships even more…but we also talked about how unique this time would be for her – yes, it’s a significant time to be away from her family, but on the other side of the coin it was time that was truly hers to own. The independence she gained and the activities she got to participate were choices that she got to make – not mom or dad.” – Chrissy Geraghty

Talk about what happens at the end of the session
“I sought out my daughter’s advice and here is what she had to say: “There are SO many fun activities at the END of camp that only 3.5 week campers can experience.” As a camper considering 3.5 weeks, she thought about having the opportunity to witness regatta, camp play, horse show, tennis tournament, banquet, and final council fire–all special events that she only heard about as a 2 week camper–and she felt so excited about being a part of them. She believes that extra time at camp is so special, and really the best part.” – Emily Wyner

Watch the Homesickness DVD
“We also plan to watch the DVD sent out last year again to revisit the conversation about homesickness.” – Anonymous

Clearwater refers to being homesick as “missing home”. We’ve had some younger campers believe it was a physical ailment. It is important that parents talk about how normal it is, at any age and number of years at camp, that you will miss your family and home surroundings. There are some great tips on the DVD that serve as a reminder that your child is not alone in their feelings. One tip is for them to talk with their camp counselor about how they are feeling. Support is part of what the counselor is there for.

Share camp stories with school friends
[She] has friends that go to various camps in Wisconsin and Michigan. I encourage her to trade camp stories with friends that attend camp in hopes that it will build up her excitement for the upcoming camp session. Their faces light up when they share their camp experiences! The overnight hiking trip she got to do last summer is always a highlight her friends want to hear about. – Melissa Bullock

Talk about the full camp experience
I had her review the entire camp experience from looking at the website, filling out the activity preferences form, shopping for any camping clothing/equipment, taking the bus, arriving at camp, setting up her bed, meeting her cabin friends, etc. I did this to hear her level of excitement and commitment to camp and to address any issues with her or you, if necessary. – Pam Kallos

And, if you’re wondering what you can do while she’s at camp:

Write letters during the session that focus on the camper’s experience
“For the upcoming session I will have a mail plan in place to give her encouragement and support throughout the 3.5 weeks. I’ll drop a letter in the mailbox at camp on the day we drop her off so she’ll have a note on the very first day. In my letters I try not to tell her all the cool things she is missing but rather focus on her, her accomplishments at camp, her favorite meals, and her favorite activities.” – Melissa Bullock

Overall, to come to camp for a 3.5 week session (or more!) can be one of the most rewarding experiences for you and your daughter and there are ways to prepare and support this precious time. We’d love to hear from you if you have any other ideas or suggestions. Comment on our facebook or instagram post. Or, you can contact us – we are here for you and would like to know what challenges or questions you have and give you our best advice. Thank you to all of the parents we contacted for sharing!

We have more information about preparing for camp on our website.

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