Mini-Yo-We alumni Christine is joined in this episode by fellow alumni Becca and Rachel to talk about pro-tips for getting your kids adjusted to opening days. Together, the moms have experienced about 75 opening days and are here to share their experiences.
- Arrange supplies ahead of time. // Of course your child needs clothes, but about a week out Rachel also starts gathering the extra supplies, such as headlamps and sunscreen. Since the swim test is be the first thing the kids do at camp, she makes sure that the swimsuits, towels, and sunscreen are the last items put into their bags. Becca’s daughter loves to follow the Mini-Yo-We packing list and add in her own flair as desired. Letting kids help with the packing provides a good starter for her adulthood and independence.
- Chat with your child before opening day. // It’s a big adjustment to be in the large group of other kids and so introverted kids in particular may need some reassurance in expanding their comfort zone. Talk with your kids, both introverted and extroverted, about potential experiences that may come up during their time there. What if there was a new camper in their cabin, what could they do to make them comfortable? Chat with your kids about reaching out to leaders if they’re having a hard time being away from home or any other concerns. It can help an anxious kid to chat about these potential experiences ahead of time.
- Traditions around getting adjusted to camp. // Kids that have a hard time being away from home can take something comfortable from home, like a stuffie. It can be surprising how long kids will be in that stage and want to bring something with them. Also answer your kid’s questions and remind them of the fun they’ll have. Practice camp cheers with your child leading up to the opening day.
- Check in begins at 2pm. // As you come in, you’ll get to the camp gates where staff will direct you where to go. Then additional staff directs you in parking lot and helps you if you are new. You will drop off the luggage and the staff will bring it to your child’s cabin after tagging it. You’ll then head to the lodge with your kid for registration and check with the nurse, then double check activities for the week.
- One parent dropping off two kids can be a bit of a challenge. // Know your kids and which would be more willing to wait until the other one is registered and ready. The boys camp likely goes through the lines faster, especially the lice line because girls typically have more hair to examine. You can check back in to the first kid after getting the other kids settled in.
- Interact with your kid’s cabin leader. // Some parents come in and say hello, drop off kids and are done. But Becca asks a lot of questions about the leaders, which can make a parent feel more reassured since they are getting to know the people who are watching over her kids for the week. If you were dropping off your child at a family friend’s house for a week, you’d tell them about your kid, like their quirks and needs. Use this same scenario to provide details about your kid. If bed wetting is an issue, homesickness, trouble making friends, or sensory challenges, let the cabin leader know so they have an idea of what to expect.
- Lice check is part of the opening day experience. // The first year Rachel’s kids went to camp she was so excited that they were ready. They showed up on first day and got into lice line. Rachel knew the staff member who was checking the kids really well and so thought that this staff member was joking when she told Rachel, “Your kids have lice.” But it was not a joke. The nice thing about Camp Mini-Yo-We is that they treat incidences of lice very subtly and respectfully. The kids won’t be ostracized or made to feel terrible. The staff handles it and then let the kids enjoy the week.
- Make the swim test fun. // After parents leave one of the first things camper do is take a swim test. It allows the staff to decide how strong the campers are and where the campers can swim. A kid can find this a bit stressful because it has the word “test” in it and feel that they can’t prepare for it. Try not to make a too much of a big deal of it. If there are strong waves that day, don’t tell your child that the test might be hard. Assure your child to just do their very best and have fun. If they don’t do as well as they had hoped the first time, they are given the chance to take the swim test again or wear a life vest if they feel better doing that.
Whatever you do, make opening day a fun experience for your child in which they are prepared for an exciting week at camp.
You can learn more about the experiences for your child and how to prepare for opening day at Camp Mini-Yo-We’s website www.campmyw.com.
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