“Is my child ready for camp?”
We are asked this question all the time; in particular, by parents of young children. Our answer is often two-fold – “I don’t know” and we quickly follow up with “tell us about your child.” The second answer is important because our goal is to ensure a successful camp experience for all campers and we want your child to return for subsequent summers.
Overall, the best way to determine if your child is ready for camp is to take their lead – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, my oldest child, a third grader, exclaimed he was ready to be living in a bunk this summer. I imagined it would be a tough transition; yet, he marched into the bunk and trusted that his madrichim would take care of him. When the two weeks were over, he didn’t want to leave the bunk – that was when I knew that sending him to camp was a success.
If your camper is going into 7th or 8th grade, one thing to think about is whether or not they will feel comfortable coming to camp? This past summer, there were first time campers in Gurim (current grades 2-4), Kfirim (current grades 5 + 6), Arayot (current grade 7) and Leviim (current grade 8). We love welcoming new people and Yavneh campers love having new members in their bunk community. Arayot girls had several first-time campers during second session and I was struck by two things – the way the madrichot (counselors) and the rosh aydot (unit heads) took extra steps to make sure these new chanichot (campers) were integrated into the bunk and how this bunk of bonded teenagers truly made each new girl feel a part of their bunk community. It showed genuine Yavneh spirit.
Another situation that sometimes happens is a child doesn’t want to go to camp, but they are emotionally and socially ready. This can be tricky. Of course, you know your child best but, before you register your child for camp, we would encourage you to first ask yourself how your child does on sleepovers? If they haven’t had one yet or are not happy sleeping away from home, you may want to reconsider sending them to overnight camp until they are comfortable sleeping away from home. If they are fine when they aren’t with you, more than likely they will have a blast at camp.
When you have finally registered your child for summer camp, it is extremely natural for kids to have some nervousness before camp begins. After the flurry of preparing for camp is over, many children may begin to have some doubts about whether they will like being at camp, how they will cope being away from home, familiar food, tv and their neighborhood friends. It is natural to have a bit of anxiety when it comes to a first extended overnight experience. In fact, someone recently told me that the kids who show no sign of nervousness before camp starts are the ones that we need to watch more. Rest assured, at Yavneh, there is a team of professionals who love working with children and are prepared to help with their transition so they can have many magical summers at camp. If you are in the process of deciding if your child is ready for camp, feel free to reach out to me. I am more than happy to help you in your decision-making process.
On and On,