How to Make Sure Your Girl Scout is Prepared For Camp
Summer camp is an amazing opportunity for young girls to become more independent, build friendships, and boost their self-confidence. Plus it’s super fun!
So how do you help prepare your Girl Scout for this amazing opportunity? We’ve got some great tips from our camp staff to help you get your daughter ready for all of the fun that summer camp can offer.
Prior sleepover experience is a must!
Camp shouldn’t be the first time your girl stays away from home overnight. Help her feel confident and prepared before camp by scheduling a few practice overnights close to home (at a friend’s house, a relative, with her troop). This will help her get used to sleeping in a different place and not having you, her awesome caregiver, there.
Practice grooming and personal care skills.
Think about your daughter’s daily routine. Can she shower and wash her own hair? Is she able to get dressed by herself? Can she put her swimsuit on? Apply sunscreen and bug spray? These are all small things that every girl should be able to do on her own.
Counselors are awesome and will do important things like remind girls to shower, brush their teeth/hair, and wear sunscreen but they cannot do these things for the girls. So help your daughter practice these skills at home so she’s ready to do them herself at camp. And make sure she knows not to worry if she’s not perfect at it. If she spends the week with a lopsided ponytail that she did herself, she’ll still have a blast.
Help them with homesickness before they arrive at camp.
Homesickness is a natural thing and your daughter needs to arrive at camp with some strategies for dealing with it. The American Camp Association has some great resources and tips for dealing with homesickness. Here are some of their recommendations:
- If possible, visit the camp ahead of time so she will be familiar with the cabins and other general surroundings.
- Consider arranging for a first-time camper to attend with a close friend, relative, or camp “buddy.”
- Do not tell her in advance that you will “rescue” her from camp if she doesn’t like it. This gives her the impression that you don’t think she can do it before she’s even left home.
- Discuss what camp will be like well before she leaves, acknowledging feelings; consider role-playing anticipated camp situations such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
- Send a letter to her before camp begins so she will have a letter waiting for her arrival.
- Allow her to pack a favorite stuffed animal and/or picture so that she will have a reminder of home.
Let her help pack her own things!
The packing list for camp is a great place to start helping her understand what camp is all about and what she’ll be expected to be responsible for while she’s there. So as you pack together go over what you’re packing and what activities she’ll need things for.
You can explain things like the flashlight is for walking around camp at night (because there’s not a lot of outdoor lights there), the rain boots and coat are because she’ll be going on hikes and it’s supposed to be rainy and muddy this week, the sweatshirt is because it will likely get cold outside when the sun goes down, and more.
Talk about what she’s bringing and why it’s on the list. This will also help when she’s leaving camp as she’ll better remember what she brought with her if she helped pack it in the first place.
Tell her if she’s got a problem she can’t solve, head to the camp counselor!
It sounds so simple. Of course your girl would know that if she’s having a problem at camp and she can’t figure out how to solve it, she knows to go see the camp counselor. They’re there to help, after all. But sometimes girls are shy or uncertain and don’t share issues or concerns they’re having with the camp staff. So have a specific conversation with your girl about trusting the camp staff to help them if they have challenges at camp. You can even role play some scenarios with her so she can practice speaking up.
Take her outdoors!
Seriously, we cannot stress this enough: go outside! Camp is a great place to build her comfort level with the outdoors. But this should not be her first time in nature. Get her ready by taking her outside for a picnic dinner in the backyard. Camp in a tent in your own backyard with her or sit outside after dark and listen to the noises of the night. Have little talks about things that live outdoors – like bugs. And spiders. Talk about how to ignore things like bugs and spiders (because there will be a spider somewhere at camp, it’s gonna happen).
It’s also a good idea to limit the ‘jokes’ about wildlife, night time, and scary movies/stories that she hears prior to camp. We’re talking to you, uncles and older cousins, who love to tell tales of ghosts, lost campers, and giant spiders! Save the spooky stories for after camp.
So are you feeling ready to prepare your Girl Scout for camp? We hope so! You can find general information about our different camps, the camp docs, camp open houses, and more at gswo.org/summercamp!
What are you waiting for? Get your girl signed up for camp!