Tips for Helping Anxious Kids Enjoy Summer Camp

Summer camp can be such a fun experience for a child. However, some kids may experience some anxiety about summer camp, especially if it is their first time. Luckily, there are some things parents can do to ease this anxiety.
Let them see what the camp is like before it starts- Allow your child to see what the camp is like before it gets started. Show your child the camp’s website and point out things like the camp’s daily activities and profiles of the camp counselors. This way, your child will have an idea of who and what to expect.

Focus on the positive things about camp– By talking to your child about the positive aspects of summer camp, you are helping to build their confidence and get them excited for camp. Some of the positive things you can mention include meeting new people and learning new things.

Prepare for the first day of camp well in advance- Getting your child prepared for camp can be daunting and time-consuming, two things that won’t help a child who is anxious about camp. That is why it is important to start preparing early on, well before the first day of summer camp. Be sure you have the first day of summer camp cleared on your calendar, since this day will be busy with check-ins, along with dozens of other campers/parents. By clearing your calendar for this day, you can avoid the rushing around. The week before camp starts, make sure you have all the needed forms completed and that you have the necessary checklists handy, like what you will need to pack.

Let them bring an item from home– When in the midst of packing for summer camp, have your child choose a comfort item to bring with them to camp. A comfort item can be something that reminds them of home, like a family photo or can be their favorite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal.

Don’t opt for long, drawn-out goodbyes- As a parent, you probably want to hang around camp for a bit to ensure your child will be okay. However, this may not be the best approach for an anxious child. Instead, say your goodbyes, give hugs and kisses and then head out the door. You can always call and check in on your child later in the day. The fact is that most kids will be socializing within 5 minutes after their parents leave.

Mamasita Amber
Mama of three children and proud new mama of a standard poodle named Prince Miguel.

25 Responses to “Tips for Helping Anxious Kids Enjoy Summer Camp

  • My son goes to day care and I go through similar emotions. Love these tips , short goodbyes make most sense

    robin rue
    4 years ago

    I don’t think I could do it. I hate being away from my kids while they are away at school all day LOL. Love all of your tips.

  • I remember as a kid getting huge anxiety about camps or being away from my parents for long periods of time! I know it’s a common problem and I agree with your tips here – especially long, drawn out goodbyes. Just leaves open to being more worried and stressed

  • I have friends who send their kids away at summer camp and they are always such a wreck at drop-off. You’re right that kids are probably socializing minutes after drop-off. It is great to prepare them so they have less anxiety and just jump in.

  • I never went to camp as a kid, but my sister went once. I don’t think she remembered she had a family by day two, so hopefully my kids suffer her low anxiety levels. 🙂

  • My daughter was excited and showed no anxiety about the camp, things however changed during the night. She said she missed me and her sister so much she started crying 🙁
    most kids will be socializing within 5 minutes after their parents leave but I guess it hits then when it gets quiet, then they get homesick.

  • These are all very good tips, but as a child myself, I would have never went to camp. The anxiety and the sheer fact of how shy I was would have killed me. Now, as an adult, I couldn’t send my kids away to camp, because I hate being away from them!

  • These are some great tips. My kids are pretty social and really would not get anxious initially. However, I do see how making a bigger deal of the situation may indeed make things a lot harder for all involved. I do think that away camp is something that all families should try to do as it’s part of growing up for kids and parents. Allowing children to strike that independence is important. Allowing parents to understand that this is needed for healthy kids is as well just as important. Great post.

    Thrifting Diva

  • My kids have always been to camp and now they are outgrowing it. Those tips are great for anxious kids and moms who need support too. I love the short good bye idea.

  • Summer camp can be fun and great for kids to create memories and make new friends. Preparing them for this fun journey is a great idea to keep them comfortable and allows them to enjoy themselves.

  • my youngest is anxious and she has been doing great at camp! thankfully! it is so hard as a parent to have a little one who gets nervous.

  • My oldest is an anxious boy but I’m hoping with preschool, it will get better! THese are some great tips for summer camp, I can’t wait to see how they work with our kids when I enroll them next summer! Definitely bookmarking this 🙂

  • These are all great tips on easing any anxiety a kid might have about summer camp. As a Mom, it’s so diffult leaving them behind, knowing that they are upset or scared, but they need to learn to handle being away from home.

  • Talking them through it for a whole week or maybe days can definitely help get their minds to it. I think these are great tips for parents. Goodbyes should be brief and quick.

  • Love this! Once they get into it and with your reassurance, they’d be fine!

  • I wish I had this list growing up. I was a total wreck when I had to go off to camp. Good thing I made a friend or two to help me throughout my experience

  • Camps are a lot of fun for kids and you are right, once the parents are gone, the kids look for ways to have fun!

  • I remember being very anxious as a kid when I had to go to Summer camp…I hated it! But my kids seem so independent and confident…my 6 year old asked me to book her on some camps this year (not sure what that daydream about me!).

  • I think I am the one who has trouble with summer camps more than my kids. I have always been lucky that my kids are always like “see ya, mama” and off they go. Im the one with the tears and anxiety. Great tips though for kiddos who struggle. Thanks for sharing

  • I like the idea of preparing for camp in advance, especially as it gives the kids time to get used to the idea. I like the sound of summer camp x

  • I only went to camp once and it was not for me. I realized later it was because I didn’t go until I was much older. I think starting young does help you prepare for the adventures and keeps your mind open to new things.

  • The more anxious the kid, the more we need to keep them independent that way they can get used to doing things on their own. I think these are great tips for parents.

  • Aww I never really did summer camp, I was always scared of being away from my mommy but looking back, I wish I did so something more adventurous as a kid.

    4 years ago

    My kids are starting to get big enough for summer camp. My oldest talked about it this year but I was the one not ready.

  • I have heard from friends who send their kids to summer camp that kids really do end up having a great time. These are some great tips for parents.

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