When summer rolled around I was really excited for my boys to share in the summertime fun of camp. Mo loves sports camp and was excited to return to a camp he’s been going to for 4 years. He was also proud to have little brother join him there for the first time.
I must preface this and say B isn’t a sporty or rough boy. He’s the kid who likes to help the teacher, draws pictures in his free time, and enjoys reading. I was somewhat surprised when he asked to go to sports camp, but he adores his big bro and loves to do everything he does. I was proud of B for being willing to give it a shot.
On the first day of sports camp, with his older brother and best friend by his side, I was certain B would have an easy transition…NOPE!!!
His biggest fears…HOW DO I MAKE NEW FRIENDS, WHAT IF NO ONE LIKES ME, WHAT IF I NEED HELP, WHAT IF I MISS MOMMY???
Each morning started out a struggle. He’d wake up crying saying he didnt want to go to camp. Once we got there he was desperately trying to hold tears back. I’d stay a little bit until he gave me the okay to leave. However, when I picked him up at the day’s end, he’d be filled with smiles and stories of all the fun things that happened during the day. This let me know he was enjoying it, he just needed help with the transition.
After 2 weeks he’s had a complete changeover. He now wakes up early each morning to proudly pack his camp bag. He BEGS to go to camp and has a million stories daily about the amazing accomplishments he’s made. His proudest moment: “Mommy I made a new friend today.”
Here are some summer camp tips that helped us:
1. Give it time: The first few days were rough. It’s hard to see your child sit alone teary eyed in a gym filled with other energetic kids happily playing. However, once B got in the groove of the program, he adapted. Being around excessive testosterone, loud whistles, and rambunctious boys was a big change from his coddled kindergarten environment.
2. No TMI: Don’t go into information overload with your child. Sometimes we cause more anxiety by giving out too many details. Kids are very adaptable and when my child saw the other kids going with the camp flow he got into the swing of things. Letting him know excessive info on what to expect scared him. Give them the basic details when it comes to camp info.
3. Buddy up: The biggest comfort factor for B is having his brother there. A familiar face really helped put him at ease. I also coordinated with his best friend and they attended together which helped too.
4. Ask him his fears: If your child is unhappy let him communicate what he doesn’t like and see if you can help him cope. One of B’s biggest concerns was that he was uncomfortable with communal changing in shower areas (I don’t blame him!). We practiced changing clothes at home so his “private parts” would be guarded. Once we covered this, he happily participated in swimming and had a more enjoyable experience.
5. Practice making friends: Camp is always more fun when you make friends. B told me he wasn’t sure how to make friends. This might come as second nature for some kids, but if it doesn’t, practicing helped. We went through some role play scenarios at home of introducing yourself as well as talking about having like interests with other campers. It never dawned on me how hard and frustrating making new friends can be for kids.
I’m happy we stuck it out. B is thoroughly enjoying camp. I’m glad he is also experiencing personal growth, increased confidence, and all the joys that come with spreading your wings and learning to fly.