10 Tips for Easing Camp Jitters

This time of year is often exciting for kids as the end of school is nearing and camp is just around the corner. It’s to be expected that children preparing to go off to sleep away camp for the first time may display some anticipatory anxiety. Typically, however, the excitement of a new adventure outweighs the anxiety that goes along with leaving home and trying something new. If your child is talking about feeling nervous to go away, is having a harder time falling asleep, or perhaps just seems to need a little extra affection in the next few weeks there are several things you can do to ease your child’s anxiety about leaving home.

  1. Allow your child to express their worries without giving these worries too much attention. You do not want to be talking about worries morning noon and night! Set aside a specific time each day to talk about whatever worries your child may be feeling. If worries come up at other times during the day show you understand and empathetically suggest to your child that you talk about them during your special talk time.
  2. Model confidence in them! Show your child that you are confident that they will get through their worried feelings. Remind them of examples of times they were brave in the past. You are their cheerleader!
  3. Model confidence in you! Stay away from statements like “What am I going to do without you.” Even if sending your child to camp is the hardest thing you’ve ever done do not open the doors for your child to be worrying about you!
  4. Ask the camp to give you names of children who may be on your child’s bus or in their bunk. Knowing one person ahead of time or just that you will have someone to sit with on the bus ride to camp can alleviate lots of anxiety in your child.
  5. This is a great time to be practicing! Send your child on sleepovers to help get them used to the idea of being away from home. Once they know they can spend a night or two away from you they will feel an increased sense of confidence about their ability to leave home.
  6. Plan a special day to shop for last minute camp essentials. Make it fun and memorable by making a pit stop for ice cream or allowing your child to pick out a special treat to bring on the bus with them.
  7. Talk about your camp experience with enthusiasm and excitement. Stay away from stories about overcoming your own homesickness and share stories about late night campfires and color war instead.
  8. Teach your child some basic relaxation skills such as deep breathing or imagining a relaxing place. Encourage them to use these tools before coming to you when they are feeling anxious at home. This will help them to know they can calm themselves down without your help.
  9. Give you child a transitional object to take with them on the bus ride – a bus note from you or a special surprise that you have packed in their backpack.
  10. Keep your goodbye short and sweet! Long goodbyes draw out the anxious feelings kids have about your departure.


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