How to Tell if Your Child is Ready for Sleepaway Camp

Tips to help parents decide if their child is ready for sleepaway camp


Many parents have a difficult time deciding when and if their child is ready for sleepaway camp. Is there a right age? A certain milestone? Will your child be happy and well-adjusted or spend the summer homesick?

"Kids are ready at all different ages and at all different points of the year. And, indicators are different for all kids. There are many ways to gauge if your child is ready for camp. The most important thing is that they WANT to go." says Alissa Girling, Associate Director of Camp Winadu.

 Alissa explains that "The process may begin as early as the summer before they are attending camp. Throughout the year and as camp approaches, parents and Camp Directors work together as a team to help them feel more READY. It’s a great idea to schedule sleepovers and schedule get-togethers with some other friends who are going to camp. They need to feel a sense of comfort and trust so it’s a great idea to make sure they get to know their camp directors. Anyone can be “ready” for camp – it takes the help from the camp you are attending, and as a parent creating a partnership with the camp. Most of the time it’s the parents who aren’t ready."

10 questions to help parents get a better idea of how a child will adjust to sleepaway camp.  

  1. What is your child's age? Is your child mature or immature? Where does your child fall developmentally?
  2. Has your child been away from immediate family before? How does your child feel about being away from you for periods of time?
  1. How easily does your child make friends? How easily does your child get along with peers?
  2. Is your child comfortable telling adults her/his needs and concerns?
  3. How well does your child follow directions?
  4. Has your child participated in group activities like day camp programs, team sports, or youth programs?
  1. Does your child know anyone else attending the camp? sibling? family friend? school friend?
  2. What is your child's level of independence and responsibility?
  3. Does your child get anxious when talking about going away from home?
  4. Does your child want to go to camp?

Talk to your child about what camp is and evaluate his or her desire to go. Does your child have certain expectations or hope to learn something specific? This will help you choose the right camp for your child.

Try not to force a child before they are ready and remember that even children who express a desire to go to sleepaway camp may get homesick. The average age for children to go to sleepaway camp for the first time is between 7-9 years old. However a mature 6 year old might do quite well and an immature child may need to wait till 10 years old. Listening to your child is the best indicator of readiness.

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