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First Time at Camp: A Head Start

Agatha Stawicki

Starting camp early can give kids a head start.

My 4 year old is going to overnight camp for the first time.  Two nights, three days on an island in Algonquin Park! Patti Thom from Camp Tanamakoon gave me the idea at the annual advisory board meeting for Our Kids Go To Camp magazine. She told me about her KinderCamp and that they are accepting kids as young as 4 years old to their overnight program. Patti also gave me a tip how to introduce the idea of camp to my daughter:  Play the summer camp introduction dvd for your daughter, but make sure not to comment ‘you’ll be alone’, ‘mommy won’t be with you’ etc.  Just let her watch it and see how she reacts.   I requested a camp introduction package and when it arrived in the mail we all huddled around my laptop and played the dvd. My daughter was thrilled about camp right away…the cabins, the sleeping bag, her own back pack…all the simple little things that make the experience so special (though I think it was the photos of kids eating marshmallows that really got her!).

So she’s off to camp. Taking the bus up—she can make friends and get to know some of her counsellors during the drive up—and we’ll have a family road trip to Algonquin on Father’s Day to pick her up.

When we tell friends that our daughter is going away to camp, they can’t believe that we’re sending her to an overnight camp at such a young age. Many years ago, when I was a camp councellor at Camp Pine Crest, I had a 5 year-old camper that stayed at the overnight camp for 2-weeks. I was amazed at her independence, confidence and self-sufficiency at such an incredibly young age.  Dave Graham from Camp Kandalore says that camp prepares kids to be resilient—teaches them to bounce back when things don’t go their way. What an incredible life skill to have. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to camp to grow another fresh layer of my own resilient skin…I want to make sure that I give my kids a head start!

Coming up: The Drop Off…

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About Agatha Stawicki

Agatha Stawicki is the publisher at Our Kids Media. Follow her at @AgathaStawicki on Twitter.

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