7 Things Every Parent Should Know Before Sending Their Kids to Sleepaway Camp


One of our editors sent her 8-year-old daughter to sleepaway camp this weekend. As amazing as the experience can be for kids, the transition can be rough.

So we asked our Facebook fans for their best advice for both mother and daughter. Here are some of our favorite answers:

“Keep a journal (both of them) detailing what they did while apart. The adventures from the daughter, the mundane from mom. This will make them feel closer to one another… and then share them when she returns.” —Vicki P.

“It hurts sometimes knowing that they don’t need us 24/7 but it’s great knowing that they’re growing up.” —Mary S.M.

“Enjoy yourselves! Don’t waste your time worrying about the other because they’re likely having fun and not worrying about you!” —Renee C.

“I always told my kids the same my father told me: When you’re found with decisions, make them as if I were next to you. They are still alive and well now as adults. Trust!” —Monica D.

“Meeting new people is exciting. Enjoy yourself. Always always stay in a group.”—Carol B.

“Mom, she will be fine. [She’ll] probably cry when she has to come home. Don’t take it personally.”—JoAnne J.B.

“Send her a lot of mail! Fun postcards and cards—Target has great ones. As a child at camp I lived for mail (and later as a counselor as well!). I’m 32 now and still have my cards, and my mom still has the letters I sent her.”—Andrea Q.

Get more advice on easing kids’ anxieties.


  1. Susanna

    I have worked at many summer camps and to be honest, the parent’s fears and inabilities to trust their kids/the staff usually make it worse. Your kid will probably come back terribly dirty and maybe with a couple cuts and scratches, but they are so lucky to be able to experience nature & full-on childhood away from the super-sanitized and risk-free world of every day life. They will learn SO much and have a tonne of fun, but the precursor to that is the parents & children accepting that they are individual humans, and no longer by-necessity extensions of each other.

    July 1, 2014 at 8:53 am
  2. Jennifer E.

    Treat your child with ABSOLUTE confidence that they will be fine from the time you sign them up for camp. Don’t worry aloud, say, “Oh, my baby,” cry, or go on about this being the first time they are away. Treat camp as an adventure that you are thrilled they have the opportunity to experience. “I’m so excited for you! You are going to have so much fun!!” Talk about ONLY your own and others’ positive camp experiences, exclude ALL negative ones – you’ll have plenty of time to tell those (with humor) after they come home from a great week at camp. If you didn’t go to camp, talk about how you wish you could have gone to camp or a camp like theirs. All letters from home should be upbeat and never include things that make them wish they were at home. First letter to my daughter at her first week at camp was about how fussy her baby brother was all the way home from dropping her off, how stiflingly hot it was at home, and how glad I was she was in the nice, cool mountains. Newsy, chatty, but nothing that made her wish she was with us. Don’t say you miss them, say you love them and you are so proud of them and excited that they get to do this. Don’t make it about you. This is the kindest thing you can do for them.

    July 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

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