As a camp director for the past 10 years, you can imagine how many times I’ve been asked "Is my child ready for overnight camp?" by prospective families thinking of sending their most prized possession away to an overnight summer camp. You are sold on the skill and personal development, making lifelong memories with soon-to-be lifelong friends, all while having a blast in the outdoors—but is your child really ready for sleepaway camp? This is a tough question to answer and it leads to a tougher one, which ultimately leads to the hardest one of all.
Is my child ready for overnight camp?
On one hand, the answer to this question is no—and that’s kind of the point. Overnight camp is a fast-paced experience of days packed with activities, a variety of physical and mental challenges, and perhaps the first time they have taken on the responsibility of independence. There is a LOT to take in at camp and we believe in the power of creating a positive environment where healthy failure is our goal because this is where the opportunities for growth, courage, and resilience lie. The best part is that we do this all while having an absurd, borderline obnoxious amount of fun.
With this in mind, my answer to prospective parents is almost always a resounding ‘yes’. It would be impossible for me to understand the complexity of your child or provide a checklist of cardinal experiences that guarantee an amazing experience at camp. What I can say is—I have the utmost confidence in the programs here at Avid4 Adventure, (and frankly, that of many other camps) to provide a positive environment for your camper which supports them from where they're at to have a great time at a summer overnight camp. Undoubtedly, you are the top expert on your camper. While I can recommend some experiences to check-off so your child is more ready for sleepaway camp like camp-outs in the backyard, going out for a bike ride on some local trails, or visiting your nearest climbing gym, some kids attend having no outdoor experience whatsoever and still have an unforgettable time at camp.
This leads me to the tougher question, which I believe is the better one to ask. It might be slightly uncomfortable initially, so please receive it from me with the best of intentions.
Why do I doubt My child’s ability to be successful at overnight camp?
This reflection is important and helps narrow the discussion, both with your family and your camp director, to be honest about what gives you pause when thinking about sleepaway camp. The answer may lie in learning more about the camp philosophy, training, techniques, standards and best practices to address key concerns. It may lie in assessing your child’s behavior with their peers and how they might influence the experience of others. Even those answers may not be deal-breakers outright. It may prompt a reflection of your own motivations for considering overnight camp in the first place, which leads to the hardest question of all.
Am I ready to send my child to overnight camp?
I speak with many, many parents every summer who ask me if their child is ready for overnight camp and through our conversation, it boils down to this key question. Sending your child is not only a leap for your child—it is a tremendous leap for you too! Or maybe your child is already trying to convince you to send them to overnight camp. Either way, we provide a ton of support for our parents to learn about our programs and gain support. Before camp, we are always available to answer questions, you can connect with other parents or visit our Help Center which answers FAQs. During camp, we offer support by providing photos of your camper throughout their session, a streamlined mail system, having a dedicated Assistant Director of Parent Experience and so much more.
I know that you were hoping for a quick answer here but unfortunately, I think I successfully pulled off the ol’ answer-your-question-with-another-question routine. However, I believe these are the right questions to ask yourself and discuss with your family. We are here to discuss any concerns you identify and help you make the best decision towards your camper has a great camp experience.
Ready to learn more about confidence building Overnight Camp adventures with Avid4 Adventure? We offer a wide range of summer adventure camps in Colorado where 1st - 12th graders learn positive risk taking while participating in sports like mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and more all while having the most fun possible! Click the button below to learn more about the unique and ridiculously fun culture at Avid4 Adventure Overnight Camps.
For additional reading, visit:
- Conquer Your Overnight Camp Fears: 6 of Your Biggest Worries Answered
- How to Convince Your Parents to Send You to Overnight Camp
- Two Stories from Overnight Camp
- A Guide to Expedition Overnight Camps