Coping with pre-Camp jitters

Butterflies in the background and the words Feeling Nervous in the foreground.

April 04, 2016

Coping with pre-Camp jitters

Anthony Pulliam

While at camp, your camper will learn teamwork, independent thinking, resilience, responsibility and social skills, in addition to the many new skills they will master by participating in all of the exciting activities here at River Way.

Despite all the fun ahead, as we get closer to the first day of camp, a few stomachs may begin to turn and perhaps there may even be some sleepless nights… and I don’t just mean for the children!

As a parent, summer camp director, and one of the owners of River Way Ranch Camp, I can tell you that it is perfectly normal if you or your child start feeling butterflies flutter in your tummies. It is also natural for parents to experience anxiety before their children leave for camp.

Separation is a necessary and healthy part of growing up. Remember your baby’s first crawl, the first day your child attended kindergarten, or the first time your child spent the night at a friend’s house? Each successful separation helps your child gain the confidence necessary for the future.

We have seen a lot during the fifty summers we’ve been in operation and we know your children will adjust fine and that a little homesickness is perfectly normal. We have three camp moms who ensure your child adjusts quickly and thrives in the camp environment. Our camp moms are the liaison between you and your child while at camp.

To help both children and parents have a smooth transition, I have summarized a few helpful hints that have proven to work wonders over the past five decades.

Suggestions on how to prepare your child for a successful camp experience:

  •  Watch the videos of the activities on the camp website. Sit down as a family and share thoughts of what types of activities interest your child.
  •  Parents of our Buckaroos, ages 7-9, should help the child address the envelopes that will be used to send letters home. Please be sure to place a stamp and use your camper’s name for the return address.
  •  If your child is showing signs of being nervous, in the days preceding takeoff, please help to re-direct that energy into positive thoughts. PLEASE DO NOT ASK YOUR CHILDREN IF THEY ARE NERVOUS.  Simply hand them a pad of paper or, better yet, put them in front of the computer, and ask them to list as many activities as they can think of that they’ve seen in the DVD or on the camp website. Once they have done that, print it and have them highlight those activities they wish to learn. This will help to distract them from the “scary thoughts”.
  •  If a child says, “I’m nervous” or “I don’t think I am ready for sleep away camp” it is best to address why your child may feel like this. Then, help address each of those concerns.  Examples of pre-camp anxiety may include the following:
a) Will I make friends?
b) What if I get homesick?
b) I’m a twelve year old girl. What if my “you know what” starts while I am at camp?
c) Will I be with the friend I signed up with?
d) If I am not coming with a friend, who will be in my bunk?
e) Who do I go to if I need something?

Please feel free to email or phone our camp office should you or your child have any questions. Our Assistant Director and former Camp Mom, Ashley, helps many families through their first-time camp anxieties, and would love to speak with you and offer solutions to these questions and many more.

Here’s what’s new in 2016!
We are excited to announce that in addition to our already extensive list of activities, we are adding new activities your camper will love. These include:

  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding
  • Ceramics
  • Journalism and Television Broadcasting

Letter to My Child’s Counselor
In order for us to better help your camper adjust and to meet any specific needs or concerns you may have about their time here at camp, we have created a new form called the “Letter to My Child’s Counselor.” This form is located in your CampInTouch account. Please be sure to fill it out so that we can get to know your child a little better before they arrive and help us to provide a custom-tailored experience for all.

Sessions 1 & 3:
I can’t believe you wore that!” –What is the absolute craziest and most outrageous
*camp appropriate* clothing combination you can think of?
Comic-Con: Superheroes, StarWars, video games or your favorite movie/TV show/cartoon/Anime. Show us your fandom!
Tight & Bright: Neon colors only! Tutus, leggings, wristbands, and more!
Dance Theme— The Wonderful World of Disney
Sessions 2 & 4:
Pirate’s Luau: Pirates of the Tropics! Hawaiian Luau meets Pirates! The perfect marriage of grass skirts and eye patches.
Sports & Tutus: Wear your favorite sports gear, your favorite tutu, or both!
Dance Theme— Riverween: Halloween has come to River Way!
Session 2 only#Murica– A Red, White and Blue 4th of July celebration / Session 4 onlyCrazy Hair Day


We look forward to giving your child one of the most exciting experiences of a lifetime!