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Family Forum: Summer Camp Basics

Prepping for your kids' summer experience.

Most camps start this week, so it’s a good time to go over some essentials for your kids, from what to send them off with each day to how to handle homesickness. Here’s a quick primer:

What They Need

Since for most day camps, a good portion of your child’s time will be spent outside, make sure you provide them with all the necessary supplies for camp survival. Below is a list of items to include in your child's backpack for a safe and healthy summer.

  • A water bottle: Encourage them to refill for frequent hydration.
  • Suntan lotion: Always use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, as anything less will not provide sufficient UV protection. 
  • Bug spray: Spray on before starting the day and try to avoid sweet-smelling hair products.
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer: Great to use throughout the day, though most camps will have this available as well.
  • Sunglasses/sunhat to block out the harmful UV rays if the camp allows.

 

For Special Needs Kids

If your child has a special need, you most likely have selected the camp experience that best meets those needs. But there are still some final preparations you can take to ensure that he’s comfortable. Evan Schermer, director of special education at Gersh Academy in Huntington Station, offers the following tips:

  • Visit the grounds ahead of time with your child, and while there, start to establish a relationship with the staff.
  • Show your child the safe places, like shady or quiet areas.
  • Tell the counselors about your child’s triggers and how to handle them.
  • Get a copy of the schedule and discuss it with your child.
  • Take the time to speak with your child about his concerns. Is he worried about making new friends? Being at a new location? These things can be brought up with the administration
    ahead of time.

 

Homesickness for Sleep-Away Kids

Preparing your children ahead of time will go a long way toward preventing homesickness. Before she leaves, talk to her about the highs and lows she’s likely to experience at camp. Try to take the family to visit the camp ahead of time. And send a letter that will be there when she arrives. (Don’t forget to give her pre-stamped addressed envelopes to send you mail.)

If homesickness occurs despite your preparations, don’t immediately come to the rescue and whisk your child home. Listen to her concerns and reassure her that you have confidence in her ability to cope. If the problems persist, speak to the camp director who will be knowledgeable enough to know if it’s more than the normal homesickness. In most cases homesickness passes quickly since the
kids are kept busy.

No matter what type of camp experience your child is having this summer, the better prepared they are for the transition from the school year to camp, the more successful and fun their camp time will be.

Liza N. Burby is Publisher of Long Island Parent Magazine and liparentonline.com.

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