So your camper is headed to Foley for the first time! Excited?Nervous? Unsure on how to help him/her prepare? Here are some hints and suggestions to prepare and empower your child for her/his experience at Foley!
This is a MUST READ for parents that are new to Foley, especially if your camper is under the age of 12!
Does your child need a little extra practice swimming? Have him/her take some lessons or practice before coming to camp to increase endurance and familiarity with a variety of strokes so they are ready for the Swim Check. Remember that swimming in a lake is different than swimming in a pool!
Arrange for your child to spend a night or two at a friend’s house. Have him pretend that he is off to camp and pack his own bags and tell him that he can only call home if there is an emergency. As a “camp” parent, you could tuck a letter into his bag.
Be sure to acknowledge with your child their previous successes and skills that they already have that relate to camp. For example: being away from home for an overnight, making new friends, trying new foods, etc.
If your child doesn’t already do these tasks, have her take the initiative to make her own bed, pick up and put away her own clothes, brush her teeth, wash and comb her hair, etc.
Have your child practice the “camp bedtime routine” of using their flashlight to read, write, draw, and/or listen to a MP3 players quietly for up to 15 minutes before falling to sleep
Encourage your child to practice having “rest period”, a half hour quiet time after lunch where campers are on their beds. Campers are generally found reading, drawing with markers, playing card games, writing letters, beading, doing word puzzles, etc. (Electronic games are not an option.) Put together a rest period kit of fun things to do!
Involve your camper in the camp preparations such as shopping for supplies, packing, etc.
Have them pack a favorite item to bring to camp.
Have your child practice writing letters. Do they know the proper postage needed? Make a letter writing packet with your camper. Include pre-addressed stamped envelopes &/or postcards, pencil/pen, paper, etc.
Work with your child to practice making new friends – talk about how to do this with specifics:
Smile and say “hello” Ask them to walk with you Ask them to sit by you Move over to include them Ask them questions about themselves – Where are you from? What are your favorite activities?
Equip your camper with ways to deal with concerns they may have. For example: If you’re having a problem, your counselor is there to help you. If you need further help you can go to the Camp Directors – Marie or Alli - or the Assistant Directors.
Be clear with your camper about your expectations. Examples: You will be part of a group and we expect you to cooperate and help out. We expect you to try. Clean up is part of camp; you do it everyday; we expect you to participate.
Meals are family style at round tables of about eight people, including one or two counselors. Campers have options and can serve themselves a small amount if desired. Many past campers have commented on how much they like the food at Foley.
Our showers are locker room style with individual curtained stalls off a main locker room area. Campers wrap in a big towel in their cabin, walk to the nearby shower facility, shower, wrap in their towel and return to the cabin to dress.
The role you play as parent is crucial and we work to partner with you in dealing with the particulars related to your child. Our counselors are selected for their ability to nurture and are trained to watch for homesick or lonely children. We are discrete in working with the campers and their particular concerns. Our experience has proven that many times children will try new things at camp, whether it is an activity or food – things that they won’t try at home.
Talk about the fun things they will get to do. Watch how you are communicating with them, it can make a big difference in their perceptions. Examples: (from “The Summer Camp Handbook” by Christopher Thurber, PhD and Jon Mulinowski, PhD).
Not so good: Have a great time at camp, Chris. I don't know what I'll do without you.
Better: Have a great time at camp, Chris. I'm so excited for your adventure.
I shouldn't go to camp because my parents may not survive without me.
I should go to camp. My parents will be fine without me.
Not so good: These activities sound great. I really should just go to camp with you!
Better: These activities sound great. They're just perfect for kids like you.
This camp is for grown-ups, not for kids, I wonder whether I'll like it at all.
Camp is a special place for kids. I bet I'll love it. I wonder what activity will be my favorite.
Not so good: I'm sure everything will be fine. It's just going to make mom and dad very sad to see you go.
Better: I'm sure everything will be fine. Of course we will miss you...we love you! We'll see you again really soon.
I'm hurting my parents by going to overnight camp. Things that hurt my parents are bad, so overnight camp must be bad, too.
My parents will miss me, but that's not a bad thing. They love me, and they want what's best for me. I'll see them soon.
Not so good: Overnight camp is a good idea, but this is the first time you've been away from home. I sure hope it works out.
Better: Overnight camp is a good idea. Even though this is your first time away from home, I'm sure you'll do fine.
Uh-oh. I thought I could make it at camp, but my parents don't think so. Maybe I just shouldn't go. It might not work out.
This is a new experience and my parents have a lot of confidence in me. If they think I can do it, then I bet I can.