Getting Ready for Camp

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“Watch out Kingswood,
here I come!”

The months leading up to camp are an exciting time, but can also be overwhelming and stressful. We’d love to help you make the transition to camp as easy as possible.
Campers get homesick – parents get kidsick – both are normal! 🙂

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homesickness 101: tips for parents to help campers thrive

Talking to Your Camper Before Camp

For kids, camp is usually amazing, but it doesn’t always feel that way instantly. Homesickness
is healthy and normal to some degree, and our counselors are trained to talk with kids openly
and honestly to help them work through their feelings. Most campers need a few days to adjust to life at camp and being away from home. During this time, signs of homesickness are natural, since many campers miss their home surroundings. Our counselors are trained to provide a strong support system to assist campers in coping with their concerns. Overcoming this adversity is a great thing, and it helps campers gain independence and learn how to overcome challenges. Please do not be alarmed if a staff member contacts you during camp. We are committed to transparency with our families, so at times we may reach out to give you a heads up or solicit your input so we can create the very best camp experience for your camper.

Here are a few tips to prepare your camper for camp:

Project confidence and excitement for your child as they prepare for camp, no matter how anxious or nervous you may be. Just as we teach our staff that campers “mirror” their words and behaviors, a child’s attitude and comfort with leaving home will often mirror that of their parents. When a camper is told by a parent “if you don’t like it I’ll come get you,” that camper is likely to have a much more difficult transition.

Please don’t tell them you’ll come get them if they’re homesick! This sends a message that you’re not confident in their ability to succeed or in our ability to support them, and they need to hear the opposite message. You want them to know you believe in them, and that they have the resilience to conquer hard stuff. Let your child hear you say how much you trust
Camp Kingswood and the camp staff. In a moment of feeling sad or needing guidance, they’ll remember that you trust us, and it will help them trust us too!

Talk with your camper before camp about communication expectations. Tell them you’ll be
writing and when you will expect them to write. At Kingswood we don’t allow phone calls home. It might seem like a quick phone call with your camper will help with homesickness, but please trust our experience that a phone call home will often make matters worse.

Talk through different situations they may encounter and help them prepare. What will they do if they can’t find their rain jacket? What if they have a disagreement with a bunk mate? What if they’re hungry? Practice some basic skills like making a bed and folding clothes. The more campers can talk through scenarios and practice, the more prepared they’ll be, and the more empowered they’ll be to handle the challenging moments.

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Bunk Assignments

Living in a cabin is like a sleepover party every night! At Camp Kingswood, a camper’s bunk becomes their family, and campers return summer after summer to be with their best friends at camp. Still, even at home, campers know they may not always get along with their siblings, but they’re still family. At camp too, we teach that living with others is so fun — and it can be hard! Navigating these challenges is part of camp, and it helps campers develop skills like flexibility, problem solving, and teamwork. We remind campers that while not everyone will be their best friend, they can still be kind, helpful, and friendly bunkmates.

Cabin assignments are announced to campers upon arrival on the first day. We do not share bunk assignments with families in advance of camp. Cabins are assigned based on school grade, age, and gender. We also take into account if a camper has attended camp before, where they’re from, personalities of campers and staff, and their interests. Cabin assignments balance the best interests of the individual with the best interests of the group, and are done with a great deal of thought and intentionality.

Campers are invited to request two friends on their Bunk Request Form, but lots of campers come without knowing anyone. We do our best to honor bunk requests, but when a request is one-sided it is not always possible to honor, so please discuss this with your camper and encourage them to be open and honest with their friends about requests. Mutual first requests are always honored. If you have a concern regarding bunking, please be in touch.

You can help us create an amazing bunk experience for your camper by:

  • Encouraging your child to welcome new campers into their bunk if they’ve been there before by being friendly and supportive, and helping new campers feel just as home as they do!
  • Reminding them that everyone’s grown up and changed a ton since camp last year, including them!
  • Practicing how to approach new campers and make others feel included. Helping them remember some strategies to manage disappointment — whether it’s related to their bunk assignment or anything else throughout the session. Talking through what it’s like to live in a shared space with other kids and some of the issues that could arise if it’s their first time at overnight camp.
  • Reminding them that if they need anything, or could use someone to talk to, their counselors are there for them, and they can go to them anytime. Each bunk has 2-4 bunk staff depending on their age and size of group, so there’s always someone to turn to.
  • Letting them know that in addition to their counselors and unit head, at Kingswood there are Camper Care specialists living at camp who are social workers, psychologists, or therapists at home during the year. Our camper care team is also available for campers to check in with anytime.
  • Packing a few “comfort” items for your camper to take to camp, like photos of family, favorite books, or a small non-valuable item (or a picture of one) that has sentimental meaning.
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