Perparing for Summer Camp

Updated on March 02, 2018
G.♣. asks from Springfield, IL
13 answers

My son is 11 and wants to go to Boy Scout Camp this summer. He's done sleep overs with friends (even for 2 nights) and multiple sleep overs with relatives (usually 2 days but for as many as 4 nights).

This camping trip will be for a week. He will be with 4 of the boys he's been in Cub Scouts with, and he knows some of the older boys, so his experience will be very different from my first time at sleep away camp (1 week with no one I knew). I was very homesick the first time I went away to camp. I know my son is a different person than me, but I'm still really nervous.

What are some things we can do between now and July to help prepare him (or maybe just me) for this adventure?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you so much for the great advice!!! I really needed to hear it. I will take a deep breath and try not to think too much about it. For now, I will just put together my little "to do" list of everything we will need and talk to him about the logistics when we get closer to the day.

I knew my nervousness was more about me than him, but I think I really needed to hear some other people say that.

Just want him to have a great time!

More Answers



answers from Honolulu on

I grew up going to camp every summer when I was growing up. Eventually I worked as a counselor at that same camp.

One of the problems that I encountered most often was kids not knowing what was in their own suitcase or backpack or trunk. Many times I heard things like "my mom packed this but I'm not sure what it is" or "I don't know if my mom packed my sneakers" or "I'm not sure if my dad wanted me to use this towel for showers or for swimming" or "can you help me turn this [flashlight/lantern/alarm clock] on? My dad bought it for me to use here but I don't know how it works" or "hey, I didn't know this whole time that I had sunscreen in my bag". One summer when I was a counselor, a girl had her very first period. Her mom had thrown a bunch of tampons and pads into the girl's suitcase, but the girl had never been taught how to use them - the girl didn't even realize the supplies were there. Apparently the mom just threw them in last minute. The camp nurse had to step in and teach the girl privately.

So my suggestion is for you to not pack your son's bag or suitcase without his involvement. If he has to bring a sleeping bag, have him practice unrolling it and rolling it. If he has a flashlight or battery-operated lantern, make sure he is very familiar with it. He should know what clothes he's bringing and what they're to be used for (clothes for a hike in the woods, a clean shirt to be saved for parents' night, etc). Make sure he is aware of what toiletries and bug spray and sunscreen he has, and how to use them. Have him basically do the packing, with your supervision (so stuff just doesn't get thrown in a scrunched-up bunch into the suitcase).

He'll feel ready, you'll feel secure, and he'll have a wonderful time.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

From my years as a camp couselor and director, I can tell you that the two things that most often lead to homesickness are not knowing the names of other kids and not knowing the words to the songs. Since he's going with friends he should be fine.

Go through the supply list that they give you and help him pack those items, Make sure he has decent rain gear and a good sleeping bag. Being cold and yet at camp is miserable. Talk with other parents and find out what they normally pack the gear in. At most Boy Scout camps that I've been to, boys either use a foot locker or a Rubbermaid box,

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think he is prepared already. He's been away from home for up to 4 night, he'll e with friends, and they'll be so busy during the day that he won't have time to be homesick. Send him off with a smile and enjoy a little down time

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

He's going with 4 friends...sounds to me like he is going to have a blast! And it's only a week which is very short. I think he will be fine and a little bit of homesickness is fine'll make him appreciate home even more. I don't think you need to do anything except act happy for him and tell him to have a great time! I bet he'll be so busy with his friends he will be fine. My advice is to plan something fun for you while he is gone! A spa retreat with your husband. Or whatever you like...a weekend trip, museums, theater. Enjoy a date week! Sounds awesome to me.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think he'll be fine.

The whole difference will be that he knows kids. Four to know is a great number.

My introverted kid did just fine - because he knew a bunch. He was terrible at sleepovers (still is) and still managed to go to sleep away camp at that age for a week, because he knew the kids he went with.

I bet that's why you found it hard. I think even knowing one makes all the difference. I did a week long one too at that age, with a pal, and was ok and I am not the sort to like that kind of thing.

I found with my boys, that they are run so ragged at those kinds of camp, they are exhausted and too tired at end of day to be that homesick. The camp I had been to had a lot of downtime, where you could be by yourself and just not feel a part of things. I remember finding it long, even with my one pal (however I made another pal while there) but was ready for home by the end of it. Boy scout camp I would suspect will keep them very busy. My boys are pissy to be picked up at the end of camp - they would rather stay with their camper friends.

That's a great age to go. He'll be fine. We'll keep you going that week :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


do NOT show him your nervousness - be excited for him!! If you panic/freak/get nervous - HE will get nervous. Don't do that to him.

Be excited for him. Tell him what he's going to be doing and how much fun he will have with his friends!

you've got this mama!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Honestly it sounds like there's nothing to prepare for. It's a program he knows, with friends and scouts he knows, it's the perfect first time camp experience.
Come on mama be EXCITED for him! I remember being homesick at night when I first went to Girl Scout camp (on my own, and I was only 9) but I had such a blast there, it was the highlight of my summer.
My two older kids absolutely loved going to camp in the summer. My youngest was a firm NO and I didn't push her because I knew it wasn't her thing.
Like you said, your son is a different person, so enjoy watching him spread his wings :-)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

He will be fine! If he wants to go then I'm sure he's ready. They keep them so busy that he won't have time to be homesick. I think the hardest part for my kids at camp is at bed time. I would talk to him about ways to cope if he gets in bed and misses you when all is quiet and he's tired. If he can take a book and a reading light, that might be a good idea. My daughter loves to read but her reading light was an issue for other girls in her bunk so maybe a flashlight would work better if he's into that. I always send some pictures of the family with my kids too.

I would have him help you pack his stuff and buy any necessary equipment so that the can know what he has and what he's getting into. Plus it will give you a chance to talk about expectations and activities he might be doing, etc. I think preparing him for as much as you know will help because he'll know what's coming. That helps my kids a lot. They like to know what to expect.

I also packed notes into my kids suitcases, in between t-shirts, in their toiletries kit, etc. so they would open it and randomly find a little note.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

He sounds way more prepared than most kids. He has separated well from you (which is a tribute to the type of independence and confidence you have instilled in him).

I think you are having a bigger problem - and you know where it originated, in being "thrown into the deep end" as a child. You're not doing that to your son! His biggest liability is going to be your nervousness.

Remember that they are not going off into the wilderness. I don't know what sort of amenities the camping trip will have, but certainly there will be adults and something you didn't have - a cell phone. If anyone is a total mess, a call will be made! Ask yourself what is the worst that could occur - that you'd have to pick him up early? What's so terrible about that? Your only concern is homesickness - not safety or anything else. That is the most easily remedied thing should it occur, but there's no indication that it will.

Read Elena's wonderful answer about building more coping skills in your son, from packing to selecting clothes and equipment. I'm sure they'll give him a list but you can practice for the next several months by putting him in charge of his own backpack, his lunch, his homework, talking to his teachers, making his social arrangements, and so on. Our greatest job as parents is not to protect our kids from hurt or fear, but to give them the backbone, the resilience and the problem-solving skills to manage it. That's how your son will go off to college or the working world at 18. That's not that far off, and he'll soon be a teen looking for more and more independence from you. You'll both do much better if you start building for that now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

For 3 summers in a row my sister and I went to away camp for a week.
No one was homesick - we had great fun - we knew no one at first - every single summer (younger sister and I were in different cabins/tents and didn't see each other all week) - we both made new friends.
We did crafts, rode horses, swam (in pool and a stream), went hiking, did cookouts/camp fires, sang songs, archery, canoeing, etc - there was fun to be had rain or shine.
We even had a prank night - although the pranks were cleaning the camp directors car, painting the outhouse - the pranks were good deeds supervised by camp counselors.
While every camp is a little different - they all have similarities.

Your son will be fine!
It's all part of the adventure - and a week will fly by for both of you.
Do NOT be surprised if when it's all over that a week wasn't long enough for your son.
We always wished we could have stayed longer.
If it goes well then maybe for next year he could do 2 weeks.

What you need to do is to plan for something for you to do while he's away so you are busy and having some fun of your own.
This camping week could be a great time for everyone - you included!
See some movies, romantic dinner out with Hubby, a spa day, take a class to learn something you've always wanted to learn, etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Preparing him: I'd let him mostly pack/prepare his items. Taking him to do some shopping for what he thinks he needs is a good idea and perhaps a way to just bring up him being gone for a week for the first time and how he feels about that. In Boy Scout camp, the boys are largely responsible for their own items and such so make sure he packs himself so he know what is his and what he needs to keep track of.

Preparing you: Make some really fun plans for when he is gone! An overnight somewhere, a play you've been dying to see, cleaning out his room really good (I always did a serious room clean when kids were at camp). A week seems long until it happens - then it goes by in a blink of an eye :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

hon, it sounds as if you're projecting your anxiety onto him and going way overboard in 'preparing' him. all that preparation will turn this trip into something fun into a huge looming shadow full of dread.

stop preparing him.

when it's time for him to go, send him off confidently with a smile and project complete trust that he's going to have a good time.

if you start 'getting him ready' to be horribly homesick and nervous and scared, that's exactly what he'll be.

parenting is about creating confident kids who aren't fearful and reliant on us. trust your parenting.

trust your kid.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Elena has given you great advice. And tell your son to keep his suitcase closed/zipped all the time. A mother mouse set up housekeeping in my son's suitcase with her newborn babies and she spent 2 weeks running around my mom's house before we were able to get rid of her...

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions