Courtesy photos/Pine Hill Day Camp|
Local camp directors say camp is a great way for your child to develop teamwork skills.
It’s time to sign up before you hear ‘Mom, I’m bored’
Camp can make your child more independent; here’s a guide to finding out if he (and you) are ready to spend time apart
By Danielle Komis
The long expanse of hot, humid days and cool lemonade — and don’t forget whiny, bored children — will soon signal the start of summer.
Even if your children have never been to a traditional summer camp, now might be the time to break up their routine of playing video games and watching “Shrek 2” over and over in your air-conditioned home.
Local camp directors say camp is a great opportunity for your child to develop leadership and teamwork skills, as well as many other outdoor skills.
“It’s a unique experience that gives them opportunities that they wouldn’t generally have,” said Carolyn Price, co-director of Pine Hill Day Camp in Somerville. “They might do baseball every spring, but not usually canoeing or archery.”
Rob Hammond, director of Laney for Boys camp in Mentone, said camp helps children gain independence and self-confidence.
“We have a lot of moms say, ‘He’s just so much more independent when he comes home,’ ” he said.
Many nearby camps offer a wealth of activities such as canoeing, horseback riding, riflery, aquatic activities, arts and crafts, and hiking.
However, if you’re worried your children might not be ready to spend the night away from home for a week or more, test your child’s independence, camp directors suggested. Have them spend the night away for a few days at Grandma and Grandpa’s, or at another family friend’s. If they can handle those overnight stays, then they probably will be fine away at camp.
“It’s like anything else you’d practice for,” Hammond said.
Most children adjust to camp fine, the directors said, and get over any homesickness after their first or second night there. Counselors are also heavily trained on how to overcome homesickness, and can help your child cheer up and tune in to camp.
Also, if you’re the one who needs the reassurance, research the camp thoroughly to ease your mind. Some camps send out preparation packets and even DVDs for parents on how to prepare for camp.
Archery is just one of many activities your child can take advantage of at summer camp.
But if you’re still concerned, day camps like Pine Hill can be a good way to ease your child into a summer camp if they’ve never gone away to camp before, said Libby Babcock, director of Trico Program Center in Guntersville.
“If they (parents) have not encouraged their child to spend nights away from home in the past, then day camp might be an easier transition,” she said.
Parents are welcome to sit in at the day camp at True Adventure Sports camp in Fort Payne if they want reassurance their children are in good hands, said camp director Israel Partridge.
Parents who plan to stay all day, however, usually leave within an hour after they see how well their children are doing, he said.
Day camp not only eases everyone’s worries, but also is a great alternative to traditional child care if both parents work, Price said.
Because children aren’t staying at camp, they can also attend camp for a longer period of time and acquire more skills than they would if they were gone for just one week, she said.
Many grandparents send their grandchildren to day camps while they’re staying with them, because it gives the grandparents the best of both worlds: rest time during the day and quality time with their grandchildren at night and on the weekends.
Whatever kind of camp parents choose, they will likely be impressed by their child’s new skills set and increased independence, camp directors said.
“I think parents are much more aware for children to be outdoors and be engaged in healthy activities where their skills develop and grow and have that contact with nature and not be sitting inside all day,” Price said. “That motivates a lot of people to select camp.”
On the Net
To find a camp near you, visit www. acacamps.org. For more information on how to prepare for camp or determine if your child is ready for camp, visit www.campparents.org.
Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!