Welcome back to our Tips and Advice series in July for drop-offs, visits, and pick-ups. Borrowing from Chris Thurber and Jon Malinowski—authors of ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’—today’s post offers invaluable wisdom about visiting your kid at camp. All camps are different. Some have Visiting Days and others don’t. Your kid’s camp stay may only last a week in which case there’s likely no Visiting Day between the drop-off and pick-up.
If there is a Visiting Day, you should make every effort to go. If you simply can’t, try to work out another arrangement. Although it’s not as fun as seeing one’s own parents, kids do enjoy going out with their friends and their friends’ family on a Visiting Day. Set it up by phone, email, or fax to give permission for someone else to take your kid out of camp. You’ll want to make arrangements in advance so your camper is well-aware and comfortable with the plan.
But assuming that you can attend Visiting Day, here are some good things to keep in mind on Visiting Day:
Only Visit on Visiting Day
More so than phone calls, in-person visits are an immediate form of contact that can provoke homesickness in your child and spark envy among new friends. Unscheduled visits are disruptive to campers’ developing sense of independence. If you have any doubts about the appropriateness of your visit, be sure to call the camp first and speak with the director.
Be on Time
Stick to what you promised on opening day. Your son or daughter will be counting on it.
Take a Tour
Your child would love to show you around camp. Keep any critical comments to yourself—this is your child’s time to shine, not defend the fun time they’re having.
Keep an Open Mind
You’ll wonder about certain aspects of camp. Ask gently for an explanation before passing judgment. Offer genuine praise for all of your child’s accomplishments.
Prepare for Strong Feelings
Visiting Day can be a wonderfully emotional time, but it’s often hard for kids to say goodbye. Resist the temptation to offer your child a ride home. Instead, be understanding and encouraging. You’ll see them again soon.
Share Sad News Early and in Person
Telling your child about the death of a pet or sharing any other bad news is best done in person, not in a letter or a phone call (when you’re not there to provide comfort). Break any bad news to your child early on Visiting Day to give you both time to talk about it.
To get even more great information about these six elements of Visiting Day, pick up your own copy of ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’. Have fun come Visiting Day and make sure you tune in next Monday for tips about Closing Day at summer camp. And, as always, thanks for reading!