Advice for Kids' Summer-Camp Fears

Written by Rita Kennen

Do your kids head for the hills at the slightest mention of going off to sleep-away camp? Here is how you can ease those concerns.

Is your child getting the sleep-away summer camp jitters? If so, remember that although sleep-away camp is a terrific growth opportunity for kids, it's also an adventure most first-time campers face with trepidation.

Ann Cathcart, founder of the Vail Valley Learning Camp, is extra familiar with how to handle cautious campers. She started the camp several years ago after having trouble placing her son Tucker, a child with learning disabilities, in a program that met all his needs.

The Vail Valley Learning Camp offers academic programs for learning-challenged kids ages 7-14.
Camp director Ann Cathcart feels that any child who wants summer academics can fit in at the learning camp.
To find out more, visit The Learning Camp.

"There just wasn't anything available that would give him a combination of academics and fun," comments Cathcart, a single mom.

Her successful Colorado-based summer camp is entering into its 11th season. Carthcart feels strongly that her camping experience with special-needs kids is one that can work for any child.

She explains, "So much of how a child reacts to summer camp depends on how the parents handle it."

With that in mind, Cathcart offers parents 10 simple solutions for making a child's first summer-camp adventure memorable and fun for everyone.


1. Make sure your child understands that summer camp is a gift, not a punishment.

2. Encourage campers to help select their camp. Show them brochures or the Web sites. Do your homework. Choose the camp that best suits your child's interests.

3. Share how excited you feel about your child's coming adventure. Point out the new things he'll learn in a place he'll remember all his life.

4. Confide what to expect at camp and describe a typical day.

5. Share stories about when you went to camp and the fun you had, the friends you made and some of the unexpected things that happened.

6. Talk to your camper about making new friends from lots of different places.

7. Reassure your camper how much you will miss them. Promise to stay in constant touch and do so!

8. Provide addressed postcards to your camper to stay in touch with relatives and friends at home.

9. Involve your child in selecting and labeling the clothes and equipment he will take to camp

10. Let your child know what you will be doing, where you will be while he is away.

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