Prepare Your Child for a Bully-Free Summer Camp Experience
As parents, we want organized summer programs to help our child:
- Gain more confidence and self-esteem
- Build independence
- Develop friendships and enhance social skills
- Be more adventurous
- Improve a specific skill.
Most importantly, we want our child to have an experience that helps them feel good about themselves. No parent wants a letter from their child saying they hate camp and want to come home. Bullying is one of the top 3 reasons a child does not return to a camp the following summer.
To ensure your children have the best experience at camp, here are 5 things you can do to prepare them:
1. Include your child when selecting the camp they will attend.
Ask about their expectations. Let them tell you what they are looking forward to, and find a camp that matches their needs. Share a positive memory from your own childhood camp experience.
2. Ask your child why they are worried about going to camp.
It might be homesickness, or not being liked. Write each challenge on a piece of paper, then read them aloud, and together, develop solutions. Help your child write that solution next to the problem, and send it with them when they go to camp. Knowing they have the solutions close at hand gives them confidence, even if they never re-read them.
3. Kids at camp will find themselves among unfamiliar faces.
Help them practice introducing themselves, and give them ideas for getting to know other campers. Camp leaders can also be invaluable in helping kids forge new friendships. (Make sure your child attends a camp with anti-bullying training in place for counselors, and that there is a clearly defined anti-bullying agenda.)
4. Encourage your child to be confident and ready to take on a new experience that can give them a lifetime of rewards.
Kids who go to camp feeling prepared and positive are already on their way to having a great summer adventure.
5. Tell them that it is okay to set boundaries without becoming aggressive, or controlling.
Kids should to turn to camp leaders for help in problem-solving difficulties. I tell my son, "Learn to be assertive while also showing kindness, empathy, and compassion."
Although your child may encounter challenges, their positive attitude will attract new friends, and create memorable moments.
Anita Telle is the author of "The Ultimate Anti-Bullying Solutions Guide: The Sure Fire Way to STOP Bullying NOW!" and three other award winning children's books teaching children love and acceptance. Originally from Bergen, Norway, Anita lives in California with her son Branden, who inspired her anti-bullying program when he suffered bullying due to his cleft palette and lip.