Article by Alyson Gondek, Co-Director of Camp Woodmont on Lookout Mountain
Whether it’s from Hollywood movies or a lack of experience, don’t let misconceptions about summer camp prevent your children from going and experiencing the time of their lives! To clear up the air, we asked Alyson Gondek of Camp Woodmont in NW Georgia, to address some common false impressions about overnight camp.
My child is too young or is not ready for camp.
Families who send children to camp at a younger age report a much better overall experience. Older children sometimes have a more developed sense of fear, which may make it harder to adjust. Any age child can go to camp as long as the parent is encouraging and positive.
I can’t find a camp that’s a good match for my child.
There’s a camp for every child. Parents should look for a camp that fits their child’s personality and interests to determine where he/she might fit best. Some camps are better for first-time campers and others offer higher adventure-type activities for the veteran camper. If parents choose carefully, they can rest assured the camp is targeted toward the specific personality traits of their child.
The camp is too far from home.
Proximity of the camp to home should not be a deciding factor. It’s better to select the right camp, regardless of the location. In an emergency, parents can’t be at the camp immediately anyway. One can generally fly to camps farther away, and get there just as easily as driving to one that may be closer to home.
My child gets homesick too easily.
It is normal for some children to experience fleeting moments of homesickness. This is a part of growing up. Most camp programs keep campers so busy that camp directors rarely see anything more than very minor homesickness. Many times a child acts homesick one minute and the next minute he/she is going to activities and running and playing (apparently not homesick any more). In many cases, the parents are actually more anxious than the campers. It’s important for parents to remain positive about the experience before check-in.
My child is too shy to go away.
At camp, campers develop newly found confidence by taking on various leadership roles — whether it be in planning skits and devotionals, leading songs, making campfires or in their activities. Typically, the older campers emerge as leaders by serving as role models for the younger children and motivating or coaching them in games or sports. Campers are bound to return home more mature than when they left.
The best camps are the most expensive ones.
There are a wide range of prices. Some very good programs are available at a low or middle price range. Shop around for what suits you best. Camp Woodmont offers payment plans and discount programs! By hosting an in-home meeting or recruiting new campers, you can earn big price-cuts. And don’t forget that Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives are usually willing to donate to a good cause, like summer camp!
My child loves basketball so I’ll send him to basketball camp.
If the child has attended a general camp before, and is a little older and is ready to handle the intensity of one activity all day, this may be okay. But a general camp is best for a child’s first camp experience. They expose children to a variety of activities, which often create new interests for a child.
My child must go with a friend.
Plenty of children attend camp without knowing anyone. Sometimes friends that go together do not branch out to meet new friends. Many camps have a great deal of returning campers each year, along with new campers. At Camp Woodmont, we encourage the returning ones to pair up with new campers to develop friendships and provide re-assurance and confidence. Children bond so quickly. Within the first couple of hours of camp, they’ve made new friends, and are enjoying the program and activities.
If my neighbor’s son like the camp, it must be good for my child.
Program offerings and philosophies differ from camp to camp. What’s right for your neighbor’s child may not be right for your child. Do some research to find what’s right for your child.
Children need to get packages from home while they’re at camp.
Most camps strongly discourage parents from sending packages to campers as it can cause unnecessary friction and hurt feelings among campers who don’t get packages. Camper are so well adjusted to camp that they do not need additional materialistic items to feel good; they are extremely happy when they get letters from home.
Remember overnight camp provides supportive relationships, challenging opportunities, and a chance for kids to be kids – without the comfort of Mom or Dad. In a world where it’s difficult for kids to fit in, camp gives kids a level playing field from the start. Camp offers security, comfort and predictability. That’s what it’s all about.