Wednesday, July 10th 2013
Well, you made it through two plus weeks of sleepaway camp without your child(ren). Hopefully you have started to decompress and feel some relaxation. But now visiting day is upon you. You’ve greatly anticipated this, but do you know how to make it a great success for everyone?
Here’s some of my top summer camp visiting day tips, but please read more tips on my SheKnows.com camp chatter column.
1.Know all of your camp’s visiting day policies. Arrival and departure times, parking, schedule, lunch (be aware of food allergy policies), participating in activities, do you need a collapsible chair, are pets welcome, etc.
2. What are you permitted to bring your child. The key word is permitted, not want. Remember camp is the gift (and you). This is not a competition. Whatever you bring, make it shareable; collaborative activities are encouraged. Ask your child ahead of time the few items they really would like or need (a great time to replenish socks and underwear!), and stick to these. Most camps do not allow bunk gifts. And limit the favorite foods; kids are fed well, many campers and staff have food allergies, leftover food is donated. Bring a favorite taste from home; less is more.
3. Who’s invited? Remember your kids want to see you and their siblings. While favorite aunts and uncles are great, visiting day may not be the time to see them. Grandparents are a treasure, but be sure the terrain and walking won’t be too much on them. Ask in advance about transportation (most camps have you park elsewhere); if they will need a golf cart, ask now.
4. Trip planning. You want to arrive relaxed and energized. Plan on summer traffic, things to do in the car for young ones, stops for bathroom breaks and snacks. If you are traveling further than a few hours, plan on arriving the night before. You definitely want to be on time! Visiting Day weekend is a great time to explore the area and build your own memories. And siblings may be able to participate in camp sleepovers and rookie days, to try out camp.
5. Make visiting day fun. Dress comfortably (especially your shoes), hydrate, wear a hat and sunblock, carry a bathing suit. Bring a light jacket and rain gear for changing climates. Prepare your questions ahead of time (for your child and director); don’t overwhelm. It’s their day to share; take their lead as cues. Don’t be surprised they may prefer some private time with you versus a group activity (cherish this, as once back home, they may not ask for this very often!). Be prepared for homesickness but do not give in to bringing them home. If it is constant, involve the director and their counselors. They are well prepared to deal with this.
And remember to bring fully charged smart phones with cameras, digital and/or video cameras (and a back up). There’s so much you want to capture and cherish for years to come. I still do!