How to make a smooth transition from home to camp

Encourage your child's independence throughout the year with sleepovers.

Discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves, including role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.

Reach an agreement ahead of time on calling each other. If your child's camp has a no-phone-calls policy, honor it.

Send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp.

Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, say: "I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp."

Don't bribe a child to stay. Linking a successful stay at camp to a material object sends the wrong message. The reward should be your child's newfound confidence and independence.

Pack a personal item from home, such as a stuffed animal.

When a "rescue call" comes from the child, offer calm reassurance and put the time frame into perspective. Avoid the temptation to take the child home early.

Talk candidly with the camp director to obtain his/her perspective on your child's adjustment.

Don't feel guilty encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.

Trust your instincts. Severe homesickness is rare. However, a child who is not adjusting to camp after a reasonable amount of time should be allowed to return home.

For more advice on sending a child off to camp, see the website

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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