Are your children going off to summer camp for the first time? Camp can be an exciting adventure for kids, but some children may feel apprehensive about going. If you haven’t spent a lot of time outdoors with your children, you may be anxious about them going off to camp as well. To set your minds at ease and make the most of the time your children spend outdoors and at camp, set some ground rules and expectations, like the ones below.
Encourage Educational Explorations
Being outside is a great opportunity for your child to learn valuable lessons. Encourage them to take up a hobby that connects them to their environment, like bird watching. There are all kinds of advantages to becoming a birder, both for your child and the pair of you. To start, it’s an opportunity to learn about your immediate environment: exactly what kinds of birds live there, the kinds of habitats they live in, why your area’s climate is ideal for them, and how different birds have adapted to human presence. Reminding your children of the role they have in the ecosystem will help develop their minds and their sense of responsibility.
Stay Safe When Getting Outside
Safety can be a concern for parents, especially when their children are outside and away from home. While summer camps have safety rules and supervision, it doesn’t hurt to begin some basic safety training at home. Teach your children to stay on marked paths and leave plants and wildlife alone. Be mindful of the dangers of sun exposure, and don’t allow children to play outside during the day without proper sun protection. Beginning these lessons at home makes it easier for your kids to stay safe while they are away for the summer.
Start Your Adventures in Your Own Yard
One of the best places to have safe family fun is right outside your home. If your kids are new to outside explorations, introduce them to the plants, bugs, and wonders in their own backyard. Play a fun treasure hunt game to identify plants, or roast some hot dogs while talking about fire safety. When the fun is over and everyone is heading back inside, be sure to have your children clean up any trash, toys, or other items outside. Littering is a serious issue in national parks and public spaces, so showing your kids how to take care of their own outdoor spaces will encourage them to have tidy habits when they explore the outdoors without you.
Plan a Pre-Summer Family Camping Trip
If your kids have never been camping, summer camp can feel like a big step. Try to find some time before they leave to put together a camping trip with the entire family. Find a free weekend and make plans to take a trip to an area that is similar to where they will be camping during the summer. Don’t have tents or sleeping bags? You can rent equipment from local sporting goods or recreation shops, or borrow some from friends. Find fun activities to keep kids occupied while you’re in the woods. Bring a fishing rod and show them how to catch their own food or go for some hikes together. Just try to keep electronics out of the picture and encourage your children to enjoy the outdoors uninterrupted instead.
Take Them Shopping for Supplies
Before your kids head off to camp, pick up some basics to keep them comfortable and safe. Check with their chosen camp for an exact list of items needed, but there are some items every outdoor adventurer should keep handy. Breathable cotton layers are essential, as well as long-sleeves and hats for sunny days. If your child will be in an area prone to snakes or poison ivy, consider picking up some long pants and hiking boots as well. While you are out, grab a flashlight and mini-first aid kit, as well as some healthy snacks you know your kids will eat.
Your children will love the adventures, lessons, and friendships that summer camp has to offer. Just be sure to encourage some safe outdoor exploration beforehand and get them ready to face their adventure with enthusiasm!
Photo Credit: Unsplash