Many overnight camps will accept kids at seven or eight years of age, though not all children are ready at that age to spend a week or more away from home and family. “While some kids come to us as young as six, most are eight, nine or ten their first summer,” says Tina Munnings, our director of Camp Jeunes Diplomates but we’ve also seen some mature 6- and 7-year-olds who are eager to bunk with new friends, as well as some 11- or 12-year-olds who just aren’t ready yet.
There are three main factors to consider when deciding if your child is ready for the overnight camps experience. The first is comfort with the concept. Is your child comfortable having sleepovers? Says Tina, “I often ask parents to set up sleepovers and see how the child reacts. If your child is still nervous or uncomfortable with the prospect of spending the night away from home, overnight camp probably isn’t in the cards just yet.”
The third, and most important, factor is: does your child want to go? Allow your child to help you select the camp, gauge their interest in the various options, and let them get a feel for what each camp is all about. If kids are involved in the process, and are excited at what they will be doing at camp, they’ll be much more comfortable when you get there.
- Your child can take care of his/her personal hygiene.
- Your child is pushing you to go away to camp.
- Your child has had successful sleepovers away from home.
- Your child has experience with babysitters at night who can successfully put him or her to bed.
- Your child can successfully navigate new situations.
- Your child is interested in trying and learning new things.
- Your child knows what sleepaway camp means.
And, yes, parents tend to be overly cautious. Most children are much more ready to go to camp than their parents are to let them go. Kids are typically ready for day or overnight camp when they start to get involved in activities outside the home – playing socker or basketball, or starting to generate interests away from the family.