Seasoned Maine campers will share that overnight camp is one of life’s best experiences. New campers (and their parents) may not yet know what it will be like, so here are a few tips for a successful first time Maine Camp summer:
Do not tell your campers before they go that you will pick them up early if they want to come home. It’s putting into their heads that they “have an out” and negating their efforts to go in with an open mind and heart and get acclimated. Sure, there’s an adjustment period – change is strange and being away from home takes getting used to, but campers quickly get in the groove. Staff are well trained to help campers experience fun activities, learn camp traditions, make friends, and become part of a wonderful camp community.
Do not ask repeatedly before your child goes to camp if they’re scared or nervous. It’s okay to bring it up a little – but tread very lightly. If your camper wants to talk to you about being scared or nervous – that’s one thing and you can explain to them that a little homesickness is normal, but if you bring it up and plant it in their heads, they can become overwhelmed whereas they had been fine to go. Some campers go into it not fearful at all because they can’t even imagine what it will be like. That’s okay. Camp staff are there to provide love and support, and the excitement of camp will almost always overshadow the moments of homesickness. And for parents who are getting adjusted to the idea, know that you are giving your child the greatest gift – the opportunity to have fun, learn new skills, gain confidence, independence, resilience, and more. Lead with confidence (and big sunglasses at the drop off can help!).
Do not let your child think they are missing big stuff at home. Friends, family, and hometown commitments will be there when they return. They should live in the moment at camp.
Do tell your camper to immerse him/herself in the experience and try everything! A “sporty” kid may find that acting in the play is an unknown talent and passion. A “not sporty” child may love learning to play lacrosse. A child who is fearful of heights may find that s/he can get to the top of the rock wall or climb the ropes course. A “city” kid may realize how much s/he likes nature walks, hiking, and sailing.
Do tell your camper to be open to new friendships. The “strangers” they meet in the early days of camp may become their best friends for life. Camp friendships deepen throughout the summer and grow summer after summer. Camp friends become like brothers and sisters. They know you, love you, and support you in camp and in years beyond.
Do label everything. Many campers have the same shirt, bathing suit, shoes, etc. Label everything with name tags, a name stamp, or marker so everyone’s stuff is easy to sort.
Most of all – DO have fun!!!
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge®, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.