We at Maui Surfer Girls are in our 13th year of summer surf camps, and we’ve learned a few things through the years that may be helpful for parents and kids going off to camp this summer. Here are 5 especially important tips to kick-start your camp preparations!
1. Prepare your kid to let go of technology.
Not all camps are as strict as ours, but we don’t allow iphones, ipads, itouches, or anything that connects to the internet (besides our once a week “Parent Day” to call home). We view summer camp as an opportuninty for kids to connect with nature, not with facebook. It’s a great place to make new friends and practice social skills that are invaluable in life. Giving up technology for a week or more for kids can be a very challenging adjustment. Make sure you prepare your kid by giving them a good book or journal, and review tips on making new friends without the help of instagram or other social media outlets.
2. Pack wisely.
Don’t send your kid to camp with two suitcases of stuff they may never use, but will have to keep track of. Pack lightly using the packing list provided by the camp. Our camp is always bombarded with bins of lost and found items that never get claimed. Initial all clothing so that they get it back at the end of camp.
3. Be up-to-date and accurate on your medical form.
If your kid has even the slightest of medical concerns, don’t assume it won’t be an issue at camp. One year at our camp, a camper had an excersize induced asthma attack. It was so serious that we called an ambulance. We reviewed the medical form, and the parent never mentioned the asthma while also sending her kid to camp without inhalers because she hadn’t had an asthma attack in years. Please note food allergies, medications, even mention the possibility of sea sickness (our students sometimes need dramamine at our surf lessons!) Especially be honest about psychiatric medicines, despite the stigma. The camp directors need to know things like how long the camper has been taking the meds and what we should expect in terms of side effects. Does a camp nurse or conselor need to monitor the medicines they’re on?
4. Reiterate hydration.
Drinking Starbucks and Redbulls on a daily basis prior to camp is setting your kid up to go through caffeine withdrawls and dehydration at camp. In 13 years of camp, we’ve had a few girls get so dehydrated that they needed IV’s..despite reminding them to drink water daily! The common thread of these severe dehydration cases were two things: they were only drinking sodas and caffeine drinks prior to camp, or they just refused to drink tap water at camp. Our camp is away from convenient stores to purchase bottled water every day. Other camps may be the same. Prepare your kid to drink tap water so that they can enjoy camp and not dehydrate themselves during all the fun activities in the sun.
PMA, or a Postitive Mental Attitude is key to having the adventure of a lifetime. If your son or daughter views their upcoming summer camp experiences as a way to make new friends, gain new skills, and instill confidence in their lives, they are more likely to get the most out of their summer camp experience. Homesickness will naturally come up for kids, but distration and continuing to be engaged with all the fun activities will often help them get through homesickness, especially if they have a PMA.
Hopefully these tips are helpful in getting your happy campers prepared for their upcoming summer camp experiences!