The idea of sending a child away to a sleep away camp this summer may be frightening for both parents and kids. But with an ever increasing number of families making the leap of faith to explore this other summer camp option, they may find that sleep away programs can be beneficial for kids of all ages.
Every sleep away camp, whether two days or two months long, varies greatly.
Some camps focus their programs on typical summer activities like kayaking, archery, color wars and various outdoor projects while others specialize in one or a few different areas like performing arts, boy scouting or S.T.E.M.
When is a child ready for sleep away camp?
When deciding whether your kids are ready to spend a portion of or the entire summer away from home, you should take into account a few different points; maturity level, their independence and how they make decisions.
Campers should be a good listener and be able take direction well from counselors and camp directors. Your child should also know that they'll be one of numerous kids in a bunk which means they'll be responsible for making their own bed, showering daily and keeping track of their personal items (like toiletries, clothing, etc.) And of course, because mom and dad won't be around, they should display the ability to make good decisions based on what you've taught them at home.
Emphasize to your camper that while away, any rules that apply at home also apply at camp (like no swearing). If you think your child is capable of these things, they're probably ready for venturing into the world of sleep away camp.
What will my child do at sleep away camp?
At their core, any good sleep away camp will help your child nurture fundamentals like teamwork, independence, learning new skills, making life-long friends and how to disconnect from technology. Without the distractions of home your child will spend their time at sleep away camp learning new things about themselves. A good sleep away camp should make the kids feel at home and give them more freedom to make choices while under the immediate guidance and supervision of trained staff.
Everyone, including parents, should be ready and anticipate homesickness for first time campers.
Most camps are prepared and have policies in place to spot, treat and resolve homesickness within the first two days of arrival at camp. One such policy is a "no phone" policy, which bans kids from calling home encouraging them instead to write letters or emails updating mom and dad about what's happening at camp.
Like choosing a day camp in your neighborhood, you'll need to research sleep away options that meet goals and requirements you've set for your family. Whether it's your kids whose been bit by the sleep away camp bug or parents looking to push their kids to be more independent, this is a viable option for your family.
Sleep Away Camps
Circle F Dude Ranch Camp
5301 Dude Ranch Road, Lake Wales
www.circlefduderanchcamp.com ● 863-676-4113
Nestled in 500 acres of wilderness, this traditional sleep-away camp for ages 6 to 17 offers two-week, three-week and 10-day sessions packed with exciting programs that focus on providing young people the opportunity to just be kids. Campers build lifelong friendships as they participate in horseback riding, archery, sports, photography, arts and more in a safe environment.
Valley View Ranch Equestrian Camp
606 Valley View Ranch Road, Cloudland, GA
www.valleyviewranch.com ● 706-862-2231
A horse lover's paradise since 1954, instructors teach beginner to advanced riders. For girls age 8-17, the camp includes barrels, vaulting and trails. Space is limited.