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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 7 yr old dd wants to go to sleepaway camp. She will be 8 by the summer and preparing to enter 3rd grade in the fall. She has always been very independent and up for meeting new people and having new situations. I looked online and a lot of the camps we would consider have 2 week options for the youngest campers or those new to overnight camps. She knows that my dh and I both started going to overnight camps when we were 8. Dh went for 7 weeks starting at that age and still talks about his summers at overnight camp as some of the best times he has ever had. It just doesn't seem like a very AP thing to do, but I don't want to hold her back if she is ready and really would enjoy it.<br><br>
What are your experiences with sending your kids to overnight camp? Do you have a specific age you think is best to start or signs of readiness you looked for in your kids?
 

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has she slept over at any friends or grandmas house? I would start there. We sent ds 9 (just turned) to a 3 day sleep away camp and he had fun. I know he didn't miss me nearly as much as I missed him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
She stayed with my parents for 5 days once and it went well. She has stayed with my in-laws overnight multiple times and has been to two sleepover parties. We have never had to pick her up early and she is always excited to go and tells us what a great time she had when she gets home. She actually wants to go for 4 weeks but I like the 2 week option better.
 

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After having spent 5 years at summer camps as a councellor, program coordinator, and registrar, as well as dh and I having run a camp for 2 summers, here is what I think about 8 year olds going to camp. Some are ready, and do fabulously, others have a really hard time with all of the newness and the being away from home.<br><br>
What I would suggest....we had starter mini camps (our long camps were only 5 days, and that was too much for most 8 year olds I knew to handle...I think the tremendous amount of activity and action, plus late nights, cafeteria style food, and sun, all make for some very tired little kids by the end of the week. So, if you are going to send her, I would definately start with the 2 week camp, not with a four week camp. Also, it might be helpful to go to the camp first and check it out so that she has had a chance to familiarize herself with the surroundings before arriving for the big week. It is often helpful for children to have a friend along...sleepovers, grandmas house, all those are great starters, but she already knows someone at each of those places. So, if she can find a friend who's equally excited, or if you can find a camp where someone she knows works as a councellor, etc, that can make it much easier. It can also be hard for the kids when there is only one young kid (hard for the young one, and for the older cabin group or whatever...so bringing a friend can help alleviate that fear.) If she does bring a friend, she should be able to request being in the same cabin group, etc, but shouldn't expect to be in all the same groups (chores, crafts, etc...as camp people tend to like to split kids up so they can meet new kids).<br><br>
The last tidbit would be that you might want to be prepared for an early departure if necessary, and if she does need to come home early, then ensure that you affirm the time she was able to spend away from home, as well as that you missed her too, etc...(not that I need to say that). We just always tried to encourage parents of kids who left early to hjelp the kids relive the good parts of camp so as not to set up the fear of going away again.<br><br>
All in all, I would say it just depends on your dd. I know as a child, I would have been fine going away as an 8 year old, but when i was in grade 4, the thought of even a weekend away struck terror into me. Some 6 year olds do fine, some 11 year olds go home on the first night and don't come back. I don't know if money is at all an issue for you, but also be aware that some camps will not give you a refund if your child leaves early, because they need that money to make the camp run, and would have otherwise filled your dc's spot with another child.<br><br>
I don't mean this to sound at all pessimistic, just helpful...hopefully it is.<br>
As for it not being "AP" to send your child to sleep away camp, don't we raise them like we do so that eventually they can spread their wings and fly, knowing we are always there for them if they fall? (Easier said than done....my ds is only 18 months, so I have awhile before having to decide about camps, but I have a hard time leaving him with a babysitter to go out for the night <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/bag.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Bag">:<br><br>
In the end, camp experiences can be wonderful, fun filled, exciting, community building times in a child's life. They teach leadership, music, swimming, canoeing, and all sorts of valuable skills.<br><br>
Peace in the decision making, sorry this is so long. :LOL
 

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I remember going to Ranger Rick camp the summers following 4th and 5th grade. I had a blast! I don't know if I would have been ready the previous year, but I was more than ready when I did go, so probably would have been fine.<br><br><br>
Bec
 

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My parents never sent me. We went to summer school and did the girl scout activities. Right, wrong. Who knows. My parents may have thought it was a waste of money. I did ask to go to a weight loss camp one year. Parents said I could but that summer I decided to lose the weight myself.<br><br>
Guess it's up to you.
 

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I send my now 11 year old dd to summer camp for a week each year. She went for the first time the summer before 4th grade. She loved it, did great, and looks forward to it every year. Your dd sounds similarly ready as mine was at the same age. I agree with you that 2 weeks is long enough to start, though. I even think that is long, but if they don't have a week long option, what can you do? She will probably be fine <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> You will probably miss her more than she misses you.<br><br>
I do send at least 3 letters during the week. I send the first one a day or 2 before camp starts so she gets it the first day. She seems to really like them, though I'm lucky if I get one in return!<br><br>
As a kid, I went for 2 weeks (to a different camp) the year before 5th grade and I loved it - I was supposed to go only 1 week and begged to stay... I was never the type to get nervous at a sleepover and was pretty independent (still am!). I would've stayed all summer if my parents would have let me!<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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IMO, I think 2 weeks is too long for a first timer.<br><br>
My very excited ds went to Boy scout camp at 8 for 3 days, which was the longest they'd take 8 yo's for! When I picked him up he was ecstatic and said that was long enough.<br><br>
Your Dd sounds like she might be ready for a week. I worry. The kids aren't allowed to call home and you don't know the adults, no matter how carefully they were picked or how good a reputation the camp has. I have always been bothered by the no calls home rule! I took foster kids, I know about homesickness.<br><br>
Hmm, I guess my mind is wandering this afternoon, sorry. I'd just try a shorter time, but if she wants to go, I think she should.
 

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I went to sleepaway camp from age 10-12 for 3 weeks at a time. I would have been ready at 9 or even 8 but would have needed a shorter time or someone I knew to be there. I already spent at least 2 weeks per year in a row and lots of weekends away from my parents and never had problems with homesickness but I always stayed with friends of the family who had other children I knew...<br><br>
At 10, the only time I was homesick was at shower time in the early evening when it was getting dark and quiet and there was nothing to do but sit and wait for a shower, and then I'd have time to think about my parents.<br><br>
What make it the easiest, and I would recommend this to all parents even with older children, was that my mother wrote me every day. She is a hobby artist, and so she'd send me comic strips written about my pets and stuff animals, drawings of places she was, and nice fat letters. Every day, all the girls in my cabin or group (Girl Scout camp) would crowd around me at mailtime because many of them didn't get any letters and it made them feel good to share mine. And it was a nice way to make friends! Even a short postcard with a silly face every day can make a big difference and let your children know that you miss them and are thinking of them.<br><br>
Another nice thing she did was make up a pretty form letter for me to send back to here with blank lines with starters like: My new friends are..., my favorite activities are...The water in the lake is....My counselors are.... Which made it easy for me to let her know about what I was doing.<br><br>
I might wait until my child was 9 but I think it does depend on the child. I was very mature but even with being used to being away from my parents, I wouldn't have been so happy with 3 weeks in a strange place at ag 8.<br><br>
My two (hundred) cents!<br>
Emily
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all of the great feedback! I am definitely going to check around for all of our options (shorter times, what kind of contact with parents is allowed, etc.) and also see if we can get a friend to go with her.<br><br>
Miriam
 
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