- Hatiye Garip
Sending kids to camp can be nerve-wracking. Whether you're worried about them sleeping away from home or being injured on an adventurous day-camp outing, parental concerns come with the territory. We asked local camp directors for advice they give to worried parents. Find their wise words here.
Hosmer Point, Craftsbury Common
Parents should feel confident in the fact that their children are usually more ready to attend camp than parents are feeling. This usually means parents have instilled the values, confidence and love in their children to challenge themselves in the adventures of camp. Parents should ask the camp about the philosophies, trainings or tools the staff uses to welcome new campers. At Hosmer Point, we instill the feeling of being "home" in all of our campers and provide a parent camp blog as well.
Jon Hammond, director
Rock Point Camp, Burlington
It's normal to be nervous to send your child off to a new place. My first advice is to call the director and ask a lot of questions. The American Camp Association (acacamps.org) offers a great list of questions as a place to start. Ask to schedule a camp visit and meet the director in person. This is a great way for you and your future camper to see where everyone sleeps, eats, swims and plays. This can make a big difference on the first day of camp for you both. Remember, camp is one of the best gifts you can give to your children!
Rev. Sherry Osborn, director
Pok-O-MacCready Camps, Willsboro, N.Y.
Parents need to do their homework to find a camp that is the right fit for their child. The more comfortable you are with the camp you have chosen, the less apprehensive you will be about sending your child to camp. Talk with other parents whose children go to camp; ask what it is that makes the camp special. If possible, visit the camp and meet with the administration. If you are unable to do so, ask the director to do a home visit.
Sarah Disney, director of admissions
Petra Cliffs SumMAT Day Camps and Expeditions, Burlington
Talk to the camp director right away! Often, just understanding the schedule for the day, hearing about the qualifications of the staff, about safety precautions and examples of activities their kids will be doing goes a long way. Thinking about sending your child to camp is often harder than actually doing it; so if it's a reputable camp and looks like it will be a good fit for the child, jump in and trust!
Andrea Charest, Petra Cliffs co-owner
Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, Burlington
I would tell anxious parents to contact camp directors for information about staff training, sample day structure, policies and procedures for reluctant joiners, and goals of the camp in order to choose the best camp setting. Some campers find comfort in registering with a friend — and then you can carpool. I would stress the friendships made, skills learned and independence gained in a camp setting.
Sarah Jennings, Leddy Arena camp director
YMCA Camp Abnaki, North Hero
It's very normal for both parents and campers to be nervous. It's important for a parent to have the appropriate outlets to voice their worries, and it's appropriate for the campers to have their own process. Both parents and campers should reach out to the camp staff to get a tour of camp, ask lots of questions and share their concerns. Think about the outcomes of a great camp experience and think about all the learning that they've had in their lives. True learning and growth happens when people step out of their normal lives, expand their horizons and take risks. Yes, a parent has to let go a bit as their camper heads off to camp, but it is worth it in the end. Campers return home better friends, stronger members of the family and better people.
jon Kuypers, director
The Schoolhouse Learning Center, South Burlington (school vacation camps)
Ask about the staff so you feel comfortable about their training and ability to handle not only the "content" of the camp but also the group of kids, many of whom may be new to each other and to the camp itself. Confidence in the staff will go a long way toward allaying fears. You also want staff who like to play!
Liz Shayne, head of school
Camp Paw Paw: Humane Society of Chittenden County, South Burlington
We look at each child as an individual and make sure that they are getting what they need, having fun and learning about animals. Every child's' safety is important to us, and we take that responsibility very seriously.