Tips for Parents

Getting your child (and yourself) ready for summer camp

Summer camp is a wonderful experience for children. Camp gives children the opportunity to run around and play and be outdoors. Camp will also bring lots of new experiences, and many children (and parents) may be nervous about that.  

Here are a few tips that can make your child's summer experience a great one, distilled from our 50+ years of experience at Camp Riverbend!   

  • If your child has not been away from home much, give her opportunities to do so, even just play dates where you will NOT be present. It's sort of a practice separation.
  • Realize that you may feel sad when your child is away from home all day. Separation can be as difficult for parents as it is for children. Give yourself permission to miss your child, but also give your child permission to enjoy his time away from home.
  • If your child is nervous about Camp, you should acknowledge that it's ok to be nervous! Talk to her about these concerns and try to role-play anticipated situations, such as what to do when she needs to go the bathroom. Remind your child that camp counselors will help if there is a problem!
  • Be open with the Camp about any special needs that your child has. Also let us know right away if your child is having a hard time with something-making friends, swimming, finding a club...we can help!
  • A few days before Camp starts, pack your child's backpack together. Decide together what to pack. Show how everything is marked with your last name. Decide together what you will pack for lunch in the lunch bag or order from the caterer.  Pack clothes and shoes that are easy to change into. We recommend sneakers that slip on or fasten with Velcro.
  • Remember that your child will be tired and most likely hungry when he comes home. Give him time to get comfortable at home, and possibly have something to eat, before talking about the Camp day.
  • Most children will answer the question "What did you do at Camp today?" with one word: "Nothing." It's better to ask a specific question: "Show me what you did in swimming today" "Who did you sit next to at lunch?" "What song did you sing this morning?" 
  • Remember that learning new skills and making new friends can be stressful. Just as muscles may ache when being worked hard, your child's emotions may sometimes be bruised if a friend is mean or if she is frustrated while learning a new skill. Give your child lots of support and encouragement, but remind her that it takes time to learn new things.
  • If your child hasn't ridden a bus to school, you and your child also may be anxious about riding the bus to Camp. But the bus is meant to be a fun experience; in fact, that is really when the Camp day starts.  Our camp counselor who rides the bus will welcome your child, help him on the bus and make sure his seatbelt is fastened.

If this is your child's first year at Riverbend, plan to come to our New Camper Orientation Day and/or Welcome Day in June 2015.  You and your child will see Camp, meet other children and meet your child's counselors.  More details will be sent to registered families about these events in late May or early June. 

Here is a great resource for parents and campers getting ready for this coming summer. Dr. Chris Thurber is a board-certified clinical psychologist, author, consultant, and father. He's also a camping professional with over 30 years of camp experience.

 Click here to view Part 1 and Part 2 of his "Summer Camp Prep Tips" slide show. We really liked his advice and think it may be helpful for you too!

Lost and Found:

At the end of summer, there is always a pile of campers belongings left at camp. This is an expensive waste for our families! As a way to target the problem of lost belongings and a large lost and found closet, we ask parents to label all their children's belongings.

We STRONGLY recommend that you label all items your child comes to camp with...shirts, shorts, bathing suits, towels, sweatshirts, sneakers, flip flops, water bottles, hats, etc. Once you label items, check them occasionally during the summer to make sure that your name is still clearly legible.

When lost items are clearly labeled, it's very easy for us to get them back to you. Unlabeled or illegibly labeled objects go into our Lost and Found "cave" and may never again be seen by human eyes!

We look forward to sending campers home with ALL their belongings this summer! Thanks for your help in reaching this goal.

You can use a permanent marker, or we recommend either of the two following systems for marking belongings:

Mabel's Labels (press-on stickers and iron-on labels)

Name Dropper (permanent ink laundry stamp)

Rainy Days:  Camp Riverbend runs rain or shine.  On rainy days, we have enough indoor space for all campers to be comfortably sheltered.  Please send your child with a raincoat or poncho for rainy days.  Remember that rainy days are usually cool, so make sure your child has a warm sweatshirt or jacket too.

Tracking and SuperChoice:  Campers entering 4th and 5th grades choose their own afternoon schedule twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) in the Tracking program.   Each week, these campers choose a cluster of related activities:  crafts, outdoor activities, sports, “classic” camp activities or performance.  Then they do these activities twice during the week.  The tracking groups are co-ed and can contain campers of different ages.  Group counselors supervise all tracking groups.  When choosing which track to join, campers are asked to give three choices; any camper who does not get his or her first choice one week is guaranteed their first choice in a future week. 

Campers entering 6th, 7th and 8th grades choose their own individualized schedule three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays)  in our SuperChoice program.  SuperChoice campers travel independently from activity to activity, meeting up with 1-2 group counselors (who confirm that they are in the right place) and specialists at the program location.  A SuperChoice lesson may include a mix of boys and girls from different camp groups and grades.

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