My six-year-old is a day camp pro at this point, so I thought I’d pass on a few tips that have both of us get ready for summer camp season. I’m singing the Meatballs theme song. Can you hear me?
DO: Send your kid to the camp where his friends are going. Even if he's that outgoing kid who can make a new friend anywhere, sending him to camp with at least one buddy will be the easiest way for him to make a smooth transition from school to camp.
DO: Check out the place (with your kid) before she starts going. The more familiar she is with the camp she'll be going to all summer, the more likely she is to enjoy it. Plus, it's not a bad idea to know where the bathrooms are ahead of time!
DON’T: Send your kid to camp without the right stuff. From an easy-to-open lunch box to simple-to-use sunscreen, get your kid the stuff he needs so he’s not worrying about being unprepared.
DON’T: Forget to teach your kid how to put on sunscreen. You probably apply your kid's sunscreen, so chances are she doesn't know how to do it herself. Unless you plan on hanging out at camp all day, it's time to teach your kid how to apply her own sunscreen. Sunburns are no fun and they’re dangerous!
DO: Send extra clothes and snacks! Even if camp offers lunch and snacks, send a few more in your child’s backpack. It can’t hurt. Same goes for extra clothes. There’s no better way to ruin a day at day camp then having to wear soggy clothes from water play, or the occasional accident.
DON’T: Force your kid to be the kid in the hat. You know that awesome hat you got for your kid, the one with the huge visor and the back flap that covers his neck? Yeah. That one. He’s never going to wear it. He should, but he won't. So stop with the skin cancer speeches, get him few shirts with UV protection, and give him that sunscreen lesson.
DON’T: Expect camp to be like school. No, she’s not going to learn math and science. But she will learn a million life lessons, a few corny cheers, and a ton of hokey songs, as well as how to make new friends, navigate new social situations, and commune with nature.
DO: Get your kid a ton of extra camp clothes. He'll come home tired and filthy. You’re not going to want to spend your summer doing laundry. So make sure your kid has enough T-shirts, shorts, and swimsuits so you're not stuck waiting for the spin cycle to end every day.
DO: Visit from time to time. It’s fun to see the kids having silly fun. So stop by and visit. Plus, it’s a great way to check out the staff and make sure they’re not working on their tans while your kid is playing in the poison ivy.
DO: Sign up for next year. Camp’s a blast. The only thing that would make it better is if you got to go, too.