Camp Kawaga Blog

Hello Kawaga families, April is here, and our always informative and fun New Camper Orientation is less than 2 weeks away.  Reminding you, the orientation is Sunday, April 24, 2016 with doors opening at 9 am at the Northbrook Renaissance Hotel, 933 Skokie Blvd, Northbrook.

With the start of camp just around the corner, Dewey and I will be sending out information on a regular basis – from helpful articles, packing lists, reminders and great tips. But the best place for this information will be our New Camper Orientation. So don’t miss it!!

Here is our first thoughts as camp closes in… your son may start showing signs of some nerves as the thought of camp and being away approaches.

We are confident your son’s upcoming summer at KAWAGA will be one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of her life. He’ll have a wonderful time, make really good friends, and look back fondly as he grows older. Camp is quite different from ordinary life, however, and it can take some adjustment to get the most out of this time away from home. Over the years, we have learned a few approaches that help make this transition to camp life a smooth one.

11828692_10153364540945219_1065805599653257989_nLet your son know how excited you are that he is going to Kawaga!
Look over the camp materials/website together and talk about which activities he wants to try, particularly focus on new activities that he cannot do, or does not regularly participate in, at home. Learn about and become familiar with camp procedures and schedules by reading the Parent Camper Guidebook found in your CampMinder account.

If he hasn’t had much experience sleeping away from home or in a rustic setting, set up some practice times.
You might camp together in the backyard or have him sleep out with a friend, or even spend the weekend at a relative’s house.

11694848_10153349924945219_2688827486705964781_nIf your son is nervous about coming to camp, reassure him that you know that he will do great and that all of the other boys feel the same way. These feelings are entirely normal.
Even the campers who have been to KAWAGA for many years get a little anxious on opening day. Just advise your son to be friendly and open to trying what camp has to offer. Also, remind your son to tell his counselor (or any adult he is comfortable with) if he is feeling anxious or home sick.

Make sure he knows that everyone at home wants him to have a wonderful time at Kawaga, and in particular, that you would not have sent him to Kawaga if you did not know it was a great place for him to go.
Avoid comments like “You will have fun, but I am going to miss you so much.” You want him to be excited about camp, and fully engaged with it, instead of worrying about home and how much the family misses him.

Most importantly, stay away from making early “pick up deals” with your son.
One of the worst things that you can tell your son, under any circumstance, is, “If you don’t like camp, then I’ll come get you.”  Or any version of this promise. This type of decision puts a big weight on a child’s shoulders and typically sets him up for failure. It also puts our staff and Administration in a difficult position when we are attempting to work through the situation.  Your son will be so preoccupied and overwhelmed with deciding whether or not to go home, and your promise, that he will never fully embrace camp.

Listen to and talk about his concerns.
11873411_10153379843985219_3057223799046533505_nAs the first day of camp nears, some children understandably experience uneasiness about going off to camp. Rather than acting on what you believe his feelings to be, ask good questions such as: “We’ve been busy packing your gear. What are your thoughts about heading off to camp in a few days?” Communicate your confidence in is ability to handle being away from home, navigating this new challenge and remind him about “small victories,” successes he has experienced in other situations.

Have realistic expectations.
Camp, like the rest of life, has high points and low ones. Not every moment will necessarily be filled with wonder and excitement. Encourage your child to have a reasonable and realistic view of camp. Discuss both the ups and downs your son may experience. Your child should not feel pressured to succeed at camp either. The main purposes of camp are to relax and have fun.

A special note for your young camper:
Remember that your son will be in charge of taking a shower and washing his hair and brushing his teeth, along with keeping up with his belongings. Always a learning experience and an ongoing effort. If he’s new to this, it’s a good idea to take time practicing these skills before camp begins.