St. Vincent de Paul Camp, est. 1971
A Summer of Fun, a Lifetime of Memories!
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In The Spotlight
How can I prepare my child for camp?
10 easy ways to prepare for a positive camp experience
So you’ve decided to send your child to summer camp! (Hopefully this also goes hand in hand with your child deciding to go to summer camp!) By now you must be wondering: “I’m booked in, or at least planning to book in, so what happens next?”. I can truthfully say that a little pre-planning with your child can go a very long way to crafting a successful and positive experience at camp, even for returning, seasoned campers! Below you will 10 ideas ideas to help your child prepare for the experience of a lifetime!
1. Explore the camp beforehand
Set your child up for success by visiting or touring our camp prior to the first day. Camp Vincent runs an open house the last Sunday of May each year. It includes activities, games, tours, an opportunity to meet some of our summer staff, and a chance for parents and campers to ask any questions that might come to mind! We also provide hotdogs and drinks. Of course, there is no charge to attend!
2. Talk to other parents whose children attend our camp
We understand that this isn’t always feasible, but it is certainly worth a shot! Camp Vincent pulls children primarily from Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex, London-Middlesex, and the Sarnia-Lambton areas. Talking to parents from your child’s school (or having your child ask around) may provide hidden opportunties to speak with others who have attended or are planning to attend Camp Vincent. You could even get a schedule together with some of these families so your camper can start getting to know some of their camp friends before even arriving!
3. Get Excited!
Getting excited with your child can go a very long way to crafting positive experiences at camp. Marking the first day of camp on the calendar, creating checklists for packing, talking about what to expect and how they might cope with different situations, visiting the open-house or going on tours, and even visiting the website and viewing pictures from previous years will help build familiarity with the environment. The more children know about something before jumping in, the more comfortable they are likely to be!
We suggest avoiding scheduling significant family events while your child is at camp. The disappointment of missing a family celebration can often outweigh the camp experience.
5. Don’t Make promises you can’t keep
Although the intentions are positive in making little promises to alleviate a child’s fears or apprehensions about camp, children are often devestated if those promises aren’t met. Please don’t make promises such as telling your child you will talk on the phone, promising that they will know everyone in their cabin, promising them that it won’t rain or that there will be no bugs, or promising them you will pick them up if they don’t like camp. Some things are outside of all of our control, but contribute to the overall experience at camp! (a few bugs and a little rain won’t kill anyone). Especially promising to talk to your child on the phone or promising them that they can go home if they really don’t like it will cause them to focus on “not liking camp”, rather than having a blast! How can your child have fun if he or she is too busy thinking about when you’ll call or when you’ll pick them up? Being honest with your child and setting realistic expectations is the best way to ensure a positive experience. They may be uncomfortable at first, but we promise (yes, we promise!) they will better for it in the end!
6. Talk about missing home
At Camp Vincent, we prefer “missing home” over “homesicknesses”. Missing home is a feeling, not an illness. Talk about these feelings with your child! Tell them it’s normal, and encourage them to talk to other campers or counsellors about their feelings during their stay. Even the most tearful, clingy camper will ultimately adjust. Don’t make promises or statements you might regret such as “If you’re really, really homesick I’ll come pick you up”. Communicate confidence in his or her ability to handle being away from home. Packing a favorite item or going to camp with a friend may help ease your child’s homesickness. When writing to children, avoid dwelling on how much you miss them or what they are missing out on at home.
7. Write your child!
Mail call at Camp Vincent is an extremely popular and precious time for many campers. Camp Vincent has restricted phone access (camp business and emergencies only) and no internet access (not even for the staff!). As a result, receiving mail is one of the only “contacts” to the outside world. The whole camp, staff included, receive mail in the same way at the same time! The best method is to write letters and drop them off in our mailbox discreetly while registering in on Sundays.
8. Talk about expectations while at camp
Camp Vincent discourages phone calls and visits from parents as it takes away from the camp immersion experience, and they are only present with us for a short time. We encourage writing and letters (both from parents, and campers) and will happily mail any letters your child wishes to send. It is adviseable to send pre-addressed / pre-stamped letters for simplicity. Our rules at camp are very similar to those found within schools; We follow the “SURF” principle: Safety, Unity, Respect, Fun. All of our activities and rules fall within those four principles, and everyone at camp is expected to follow them: Staff and campers!
9. Practice learned skills
After returning home, talk to your child about the activities they did, and encourage your child to practice their new skills and interests! They may have been introduced to a new activity or new skill they have never tried before and want to continue building on it! We encourage you, the parents, to encourage this in your children.
10. Keep in touch
Encourage your child to maintain their new camper-friendships through e-mails, letters, phone calls, etc. Unfortunately, our staff members are restricted from adding campers as friends on Facebook, twitter, etc. However, if your camper would like to keep in touch with one of our staff, they are encouraged to send letters to camp during the summer months, and emails, letters, or messages to our staff through our office. We will then happily forward the message and information to the appropriate staff member!
You are giving your child an experience that is unique and incredible! We believe that camp is the foundation that builds a variety of skills in kids. You would be hard-pressed to find a better experience anywhere else!