When I began working full time in the advertising and public relations industry, I needed to find full day summercamp options for my then 7-year-old daughter. I found the best summercamp that was highly touted, very expensive, and offered many fun options for both indoor and outdoor activities. It also had the morning and after care options I needed as a working mother.
The problem? She hated it. Many days, she would tell the summercamp nurse she was sick and needed to come home. Other days, she would give me such a hard time in the morning, I had to drop her off in tears. As a parent, I set out to find the summercamp that suited my schedule needs and featured a well-trained, professional staff and facilities. But what I didn't realize is my daughter also needed to give the summercamp a thumbs up.
So how do you make your child absolutely love the summercamp of your choice? Employ the following tips to help you accomplish this goal.
Attend a summercamp's open house. Summercamps will often host open houses in the spring to showcase all that is offered to campers. Take your child to the open house at your chosen camp. Let him or her ask questions to the counselors and learn about the activities that will be offered. If your child is adamantly against the particular summercamp, find ways to direct his or her attention to those things you know will appeal. For example, if your child loves swimming and the pool, make sure to show the camp facility's pool to him or her, and talk about how much fun it would be to go there every day during the summer.
Request a private tour. If your chosen summercamp doesn't offer an open house, or you can't make the date of the event, arrange a private tour of the summercamp facility. This private tour will make your child feel special, and give him or her a one-on-one opportunity to ask questions and learn about all the summercamp has to offer.
Find a camp buddy. Although you want your child to have new experiences and meet new friends at summercamp, he or she may be more likely to attend a particular camp if he or she attends with a buddy. Pair up with a working mother of a child your son or daughter is friendly with, and who has similar summercamp needs. If your child knows he or she will be spending days at summercamp with a good friend, he or she will likely be eager to attend camp all summer long.
Visit more than one summercamp. Don't just take your child to one camp. Expose yourselves to at least two camps, so your child sees there is a choice being made, and it's not simply that he or she must go to the summercamp you choose. However, when you visit several camps you run the risk of your child preferring one that is not your first choice. For this reason, only take your child to camps that you're open to selecting. Evaluate the summercamps on your own before taking your child to an open house or on a private tour.
Make your child part of the decision process. Regardless of whether your child is 5 or 15 years old, allow him or her to have a say in the summercamp decision making process. This will make your child feel that he or she has the right to veto the summercamp, and it also gives you the chance to talk about all the positive attributes of your chosen camp and have a say in his or her summer fun.
Talk about summercamp. Once you visit the summercamps and make your choice, make sure to initiate discussions about the pending summercamp experience while school is still in session. This will make your child anticipate going to summercamp once school is finished for the year. Talk about all the things your child will view as positive about summer camp, and how much fun it will be this summer.
Prepare for summercamp. A few weeks before camp begins, take your child shopping for any summercamp needs, such as a special towel, new clothes, bathing suits and a new backpack. Let your child pick out these new items that will help make the summercamp experience the best it can be. If your child is on the younger side, having some items personalized with his or her name, such as towels or lunchboxes, will make your child feel special. Many younger children will be eager to use these new items, which will add to the anticipation of the summercamp experience.