Overnight camps for kids can be helpful in building independence and fostering growth. But sometimes, kids can get very anxious about leaving their home and being away from their parents. So what is a sleep away camp, what are the benefits, and how do you know if your child is ready? Keep reading for all of the information you will need to make the decision on how to have your child spend the summer!
So, what is sleepaway camp? It is often a summer program, in which kids leave home alongside a group of other kids of similar ages and are taken care of by camp counselors, generally young adults. The kids usually go out into nature on hikes, play games, and likely become more independent kids as a result. Camps can last as long as a few days or weeks, to the entire summer. This is a chance for children to get used to time apart from family to socialize with other kids.
Camps can be transformative experiences for kids, making memories that last a lifetime. Aside from all of the fun and games, there are a host of developmental benefits too! As children work their way out of their comfort zone, they can learn to become more independent and confident earlier on in life. These experiences can serve them throughout their youth, as they are likely to be more willing to try new things throughout their lives. The time outdoors can pull kids away from technology and build interest and even passion for social experiences and time in nature. Playing with other kids can foster social skills and build healthy attitudes towards friendship. Many kids might even make lifelong friends!
Kids start to be ready for sleep away camp at around six to ten years old. That may seem like a big age range, but remember, every child is different! Kids develop at different speeds and have different levels of fear about going away from home. Children of younger ages, like six, might start with very short overnight camps while older, more independent kids, ten or above, might feel more comfortable with spending weeks or months away. It might seem counterintuitive, but waiting until your child is older than ten actually might make it more difficult for your child to adjust when they have never spent time away from home or their parents before. Ultimately, when kids start developing reasoning skills at around eight or nine, they are able to feel more independent and confident about taking on the world without their parents by their side every step of the way.
Even if you or your child think they are ready to spend some nights away from home, there can still be a great deal of anxiety surrounding separating from parents for extended periods of time. Luckily, there are some ways to make the process easier. For nervous kids, start out with short-term sleepovers at a close friend or relative’s house. This can give kids time to learn how to be away from their parents with the comfort of being surrounded by people they know and trust. As the date gets closer, you can take your child to visit the camp or meet some of the counselors before they go. This can help them feel more comfortable and get excited for their upcoming adventure!
At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are here to help you with anything you might need for your little one to grow up to be healthy, confident, and independent kids. While sleep away camp can be an asset to personal growth for many children, we understand that it is not a good fit for every family. If you have any questions about whether overnight camps for kids are right for your child, please don’t hesitate to ask your knowledgeable pediatrician. To make an appointment, visit us at www.coastalkids.com.