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PREPARING YOUR CHILD FOR CAMP
The World’s First E-Booklet!
By Renaissance Joy*

Introduction

The following “e-booklet”*, is written to help you
prepare your child for camp. Franky is a gender-neutral name that is intended to be your child, in any place that you want to put your child’s name. Insert the name of your child in the place of Franky and this will be about your child. He and she is used interchangeably throughout so as not to favor one gender over the other.

You’ve chosen a camp. You know it is a wonderful place because you’ve heard plenty of feedback from friends, relatives and their children. The camp is focused on the interests of your child and you know s/he’ll love it!
But: It’s your baby’s first time away from home. What’s more, it's your first time away from Franky (made up neutral gender name). How will both of you cope?



Step one: Preparing Franky emotionally:

1. Tell Franky about the camp. Show her brochures that explain her interests. There will be horses to ride or a place to swim or computers. Do not set expectations too high or Franky may be disappointed. For example remind Franky that she will have to share the horses and computers so she won’t get to use them all the time.
There will be other new things that may or may not interest Franky, like campfires, singing camp songs, walks in the woods, arts and crafts, and more, all of which can still be a fun, growing, and maturing experience.

If you went to summer camp as a child, spend a little time each day telling stories about your experience. Don’t just tell the good experiences, also tell about the time someone hurt your feelings and the times you felt left out or homesick and how you dealt with it. Or if you didn’t deal with it very well then, how you would have dealt with it if you knew then what you know now. There will be fun times and there will be sad times. But mostly the times will be fun times. Point out that the sad times are an opportunity to learn and grow and mature.

These growing experiences are the ones that help a child mature and become an adult.

2. Q: “What if nobody likes me?”
A: “Stop focusing on your bad feelings and find someone who needs your help. You are a beautiful, sensitive person with a great capacity for kindness. You can help others feel good by thinking about and caring about them.
Find the child who looks like they seem to be lonely or uncomfortable. Let’s practice some things you can say to help them feel better." “Would you like to sit [walk, talk, eat etc.] with me?” Prepare your child for rejection. “If the child says “no”, remind Franky that this child has their own problem. This is not Franky’s problem. Don’t waste time on that child. Don’t skip a
beat. Find another child that will appreciate your kindness”.
Eventually you’ll find someone and when you help them feel better, you’ll feel better.

3. Q: "What if I’m homesick?"
Promises To Comfort Your Child:

- Mark important dates
- The date Franky leaves
- The date she comes home
- The first visit
- Phone calls home
- Letters from home
- Keep Your Promises
- Write a bunch of letters on the first day in case you get too busy
- Pop one in the mail every few days
- Send at least one BEFORE she begins camp so she’ll receive it the first day she’s there
- Stress the importance of communication

Always stress how important and special Franky is to you. Mention you love her and tell her you are proud of her. Tell her that have confidence in her ability to handle herself while she is away from you. When preparing for camp, focus on the positive aspects of camp: the new friends she’ll make, the activities she’ll enjoy and how proud you will be when she succeeds in learning and growing
independently while all the time loving her family. This is all a part of growing up. If your child is anxious, reassure her that anxiety is perfectly normal. All humans experience fear when faced with an unfamiliar situation. This is a new adventure. How we handle our fears and new
adventures is how we grow up and become well adjusted grown ups. We can choose to see it as a scary experience or an exciting adventure. What do you choose?

4. Now that you’ve reassured your child, how do you reassure yourself? “Now let’s get a calendar………..!"

5. Send lots of stationery, stamps and self addressed envelopes to camp with Franky. If drawing is Fanky’s thing tell her how excited you would be to get a letter with maybe a drawing of her camp experiences. If not, suggest something that your child has an aptitude for, something at which he can feel successful, not something new that would be a stretch to succeed. It’s most important that this is something that s/he will feel good about. You could suggest some beginnings for sentences such as:
Today I did …………………….
I met ……………………………….
I ate ………………………………….
I liked it or I didn’t like it because ……………
I won or I lost at …………………………..
I felt ………………………….. about it
I am happy or sad about ………………………….
I can hardly wait to ………………………
I never want to ……….again because ………...
My counselor’s name is ………………….
I feel …………………….about my counselor
The best thing that happened today is ……
The worst thing that happened is……………

6. Make up an album before camp begins and send an inexpensive camera. Tell your child that this will be a special memory bank of his experiences that he will keep for his whole life. He will show the pictures to his children and grand children. If you have any pictures of yourself at camp, share them with your child.

7. Take day trips and overnight camp outs or even camping in the back yard is good preparation. Sing camp songs and make s’mores.

8. Get some guide books about native plants, trees, birds and animals and take “noticing trips” together. Notice the streams, lakes, flora, fauna, birds and animals outside in nature. Look up information the book and discover their names. Collect the plants and wildflowers noticing and learning from the book.

9. Along with the regular camp items, supply a list of which will follow, send things your child can share with the other children. Include an autograph book, trinkets such as costume jewelry, marbles, comic books, the guide books you’ve been using, extra rubber bands, paper clips, little charms, sports cards, or beany babies, with permission to give them away, [use imitation ones not the
valuable ones!] This will make help your child to introduce himself to the other children and share something with the special friends.

10. Practice introducing lines. Eg. “Hi, I’m Franky.
What’s your name? I love horses and ...(Fankies favorite music group). What’s your favorite group?”

11. Remind your child that he must behave according to the rules in camp. Camps do not tolerate behavior problems and will send the child home if they don’t follow the rules. Make sure you go over the camp rules before sending Franky to camp so there are no guessing and no surprises. Some rules are not written and still should be mentioned such as not having a knife or waking the other children at night unless there is an emergency. It might also be important to define an emergency. Blood or fire is an emergency. Drowning and choking is an emergency. It might also be an emergency if you're really, really scared.


Step 2 What To Bring to Camp

Each camp has a different list of things to bring. The following is a general list which is a requirement for many camps. Be sure to use your camps checklist but check this list over for extras and suggestions and reminders:
[This list is based on a 2-week stay. Increase the amount of each item for longer stays and depending on laundry facilities] I have carefully chosen, invented or manufactured Special products over the years designed especially for your little campers. Products followed by * and sku number may be purchased at www.campstamp.com

- Be sure to identify all belongings.* I would suggest Camp Stamp [sku42] . Camp Stamp is a Marker for identifying children's belongings instead of ironing or sewing on labels. Camp Stamp is personalized and created especially for your child with your child's name on the stamper. Camp Stamp is quick and easy. You can mark a complete wardrobe in 10 minutes. Camp Stamp comes with a black permanent ink pad or you can get the duo kit with black and white ink [sku44]. If you are ordering at the last minute, you can order a Camp Stamp Marking Machine. It has self adhesive letters that you assemble yourself. With express shipping, you can get the Camp Stamp Marking Machine in 3 days. The Camp Stamp Marking Machine is a self inker with patented interchangeable velcro stamp fasteners [sku33].

- Sleeping bag/bed roll If purchasing, recommend fiber filled for bulk
- Pillow
- Sheets *to cover mattress. I recommend the fitted camp cot sheets [sku 85] which I especially designed to fit the camp cot size usually used by camps. (camp cots are usually smaller than single beds) These prevent the sheet, bedroll or sleeping bag from slipping so that your camper does not end up on the unsanitary bare mattress. Also see the Camp Cot Fitted Sheet Sets [sku 91]
- Long pants/jeans – 4 pair
- Sweatshirts – 2
- Sweat pants - 2
- T-shirts – 10
- Shorts – 4
- Swim suit – 2 (no bikinis)
- Swim suit cover – I recommend poncho towel [sku35] or hooded poncho towel [35H] from www.campstamp.com
- 1 pair Teva type sandals or water shoes
- 1 windbreaker or warm jacket or both depending on the climate
- Underwear – 6 pair
- Socks – 6 Pair
- Sneakers – 2 pair in case one gets wet
- Non skid shoes especially if boating
- Rubber boots if climate might be rainy
- Riding boots if a horse camp
- Hat or cap with brim to shade eyes & face *[sku 55]
- Towels 2 bath, 2 face towels, 2 wash cloths *See the towel sets in a re-sealable water resistant bag [sku 52]
- Toiletry stuff: Soap, toothbrush, comb, brush, toothpaste etc. Travel & Shower Kit *[sku 36k]
- Sunscreen – SPF 30 or better & remind to put on all exposed skin BEFORE going out in sun.
- Insect repellent (no aerosol sprays)
- Chapstick with 30 SPF or better
- Ear plugs
- Canteen* [sku31] Not too big or too heavy, with a shoulder strap, easy to carry * I have specially chosen a canteen that is not to  heavy and is just the right size for most children. If your child is small, advise them to fill the canteen only half full.
- Flashlight with extra batteries When you order $50 with items other than your Camp Stamps or more from www.campstamp.com, you receive a FREE flashlight!
- Book, cards, games for quiet time
- Camera and film
- Autograph books
- Diary or journal
- Stationary, stamps, envelopes (addressed)
- Back Pack with wheels is best* See Wheel & Wear,Backpack on Wheels Large [sku49L] I recomend the Small [sku49s] for the smaller younger children.
- Pajamas – 2 pair In cool climates you might want to substitute sweat suits for pajamas
- Prescription Glasses if your child wears them. Also a sports band to keep them on
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Long sleeve cotton shirts – 2 to protect from the sun
- 1 nice outfit if there are religious services or for travel
- Rain suit or poncho* [sku32]
- Laundry Bag* Mesh [25m] or Solid Cotton [25c] is available at www.campstamp.com Just the right size for a child to handle. I like the mesh best for when wet stuff gets thrown in, they are less likely to get moldy (depending on where they land!)
- Duffel bag to hold belongings * I Suggest the Zip Duffel. [sku47b or g, (black or green)] Heavy canvas with full-length zipper. Expands and contracts to amount of belongings inside
- Watertight Bag *[sku41] – The water tight bag at www.campstamp.com will keep things dry even if their belongings get rained on or fall in the lake!

- Be sure to pack all medications separately with detailed instructions and submit them to the camp staff.
Be sure to label all medications carefully. Masking tape works well. Most Camps do not allow the children to have their medications, prescription or over the counter, with their belongings. The camp medical staff usually handles medications. They should be given to the camp with proper labels (masking tape will do) and written instructions for use.

- Many camps DO NOT permit the following:
Radios, tv’s, tape recorders, “walkmans”, video games, some food items, chewing gum, knives or hatchets, fireworks, aerosol sprays.

- Be sure to complete and submit all application forms, healthcare information, insurance forms, emergency contact forms early so this step is not forgotten or late. Be sure you make payments at the required times. Think of how disappointing and humiliating it would be for your child to arrive at camp and not be allowed to participate or stay, due to a lack of simple communication.

Step 3 While At Camp:

1. Be sure to mail those letters. Keeping promises is most important at this time to foster a sense of security and trust. If Franky knows things are solid and predictable at home, it is easier to overcome the feeling of fear and homesickness which often follows arrival at camp.

2. Check with the camp about what kind or “Care Packages” are allowed. If they are allowed, send lots of “Care Packages”. Not every day or they won’t be appreciated. But how about twice a week? If the camp allows it, cookies are great to receive and to share. When you send “Care Packages”, be sure to send lots of stuff to share. Be sure to send enough for Fanky’s whole cabin or group. When sweet fresh things come for Franky and are shared by Franky, kids tend to feel sweet and warm toward Franky.

3. Suggest that Franky send his film from his camera to you as quickly as possible. Get it developed right way, Get the duplicate copies and quickly send a copy back to camp so Franky can have the pleasure of sharing the pictures with her friends and counselors. If he is using a digital camera send 2 memory cards, have him send the full one to you, get the pictures printed and send them right back with the empty memory card.

4. If you are depressed and missing your child terribly, well, get a calendar……….! No, just kidding! Take this time to do some special things for yourself. Spend a day at a spa or have lunch with the girls. A romantic time in a hotel with your significant other, also known as “sigoth” [new word I coined] You are the care giver and it is very important to take care of the care giver. The care giver has so much more to give when s/he has taken care of him or herself and has gotten some care giving for themselves. So give yourself permission to enjoy and make the best use of this time.

5. Be sure to visit on visiting day unless it is
absolutely impossible. If it is impossible, try to get a favorite relative or friend to visit. Be on time. Don’t put your child through the waiting and wondering cycle.

6. When you write letters, ask about the daily
activities; what he liked, didn’t like and why. What did they have to eat and did she like it? Is there anything special she forgot to take or you forgot to send and would she like you to send it now? This is his time and you want to make it special and let him know that you want to make it special just for him.



No matter how well you prepare your child, there will be bumps in the road. If you expect the bumps, you can handle them calmly. “Homesickness”, “nobody likes me”,
“I’m being badly treated” are to be expected. But usually the child expresses those feelings and then forgets about them while you are left with them lingering like a heavy weight on your heart long after Franky has gotten busy and is enjoying herself. If you are really worried, call the camp director and discuss your concerns. Usually you’ll find Franky has gone on to play and fun. The crisis pass as soon as it is expressed. Generally it has been more traumatic for you than for Franky.

Camp is a wonderful growing experience for your child and for you. Be easy on yourself. Your child will survive, learn, grow and blossom during the camp experience. Camp will be a cherished experience and become a special memory. Enjoy!

Please give me your feedback, suggestions, ideas that have been helpful for you. Ideas you would suggest for other parents. Anything you want to share! Email to: CPCustService@yahoo.com
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Renaissance Joy

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