We are going to talk about ten things you can do as a parent to help your child make friends at camp - even though you can't be there with them. While your kids are exploring, learning and playing at summer camp, you will not be there with your child. This can be a startling thought for many parents, especially if it is the first time their child has attended a summer program.
If your child is enrolled in a day camp, you will have a chance to catch up with them in-person daily and hear about the great time they are having at camp. If, however, they are staying overnight, it will likely be phone or FaceTime updates when they have time. Some kids relish the newfound freedom, where others may find making friends a little bit more difficult. With a little coaching, a summer program can be a fantastic growth opportunity for all children.
How to help my child makes friends at summer camp.
At JKCP we see hundreds of new kids come each summer and know how quickly kids can make connections in just a few hours at camp. Often times we find that parents are more worried about their child making friends than their children are! But if you or your child are concerned about making new friends at camp, there are some easy steps you can take.
While there is no magic-potion or guarantee, there are steps that parents can take to put their children in the best position to easily make friends that will enhance not only their summer camp experience but their lives.
The foundation for this can be laid long before you are dropping them off and offering well-wishes for their time at camp. Here are a few ways that you can help enhance positive social-habits with your children. All children are different and you know your children best, but here are some things that you can do to help your kids interact well with others:
- Encourage and display confidence for your children - Showing them what confidence looks like, and explaining it for them in laymen’s terms is a good idea; there is a huge difference between confidence and arrogance, for example, but often children mistake one for the other. Helping shy children be more comfortable around themselves can often make it easier for them to step out of their comfort zone with other students.
- Help them find a passion – Not only are passionate people a lot of fun to be around, but it can also provide material and confidence for peer-to-peer conversations – this can be especially helpful for children that may sometimes find it difficult to engage in conversations with others they don’t know well. Having a topic they love to discuss can help bring them out of their shell in a beautiful way. Of course, if you are sending your child to a summer program like Xploration at JKCP, then you are probably already putting them in a good position to find their passion.
- Help them develop empathy for others – This will help them not only understand others better but also draw others to them. When someone takes the time to notice us for who we are and shows an interest in us, that is somebody that we want to be around!
- Discuss summer camp expectations – If this is their first time going away to a summer program, make sure that they have a good idea of what their days will look like – things like where they will be eating, sleeping, what they will be doing for recreation and how often you expect them to communicate with you are all good starting points. Most summer programs provide agendas, schedules and plenty of background about these things. Avoiding any surprises can help ease any anxieties and let them focus on the other campers and having fun. You can even get them involved in packing for camp. Talking about what they will need while at camp can really help them image what their daily life will be like there and help them imagine what to expect.
- Befriend Your Roommate(s) - They are most likely the first students you will meet, along with the people you will spend a majority of your time with since you will be sharing the same room. Getting a conversation going with your roommate(s) can be a great way for you to warm up on how you want to approach the other students at camp.
- Remind them of the Golden Rule – This is a classic that never goes out of style and is always good advice. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Remind them that a lot of kids are a little nervous when they start camp. If they see a child who is also looking a little apprehensive, something as simple as saying hi and introducing themselves can make both of them feel better.
- Assure them that their counselors are a great resource and there to help them – Camp counselors are trained and capable of helping resolve all sorts of anxieties and issues for students. Chances are, if a student is having trouble making connections with other campers, the counselors will notice and assist without even being asked. But, if your child is having trouble making friends, feeling homesick or has any other issues, their counselor should be their number one stop to help make this transition easier.
- Be approachable - Some children will shut themselves off when they feel nervous. Remind your child that if they are feeling a little uneasy, don't hide in their phone or in their room. Gently tell your child that if they seem distracted or distant, chances are other students will be less likely to interact with them because they seem less interested in conversing with them. Stay present and smile so others know you are open to making new friends.
Teach them ways to start a conversation - If you need some topics to get the conversation going once you say “hi” to a new student try these ice breaker questions:
- Where are you from?
- How old are you?
- Are you in any sports or clubs in school?
- What type of music do you like/who is your favorite artist?
- What is the last movie you saw?
- What is your favorite food?
- Do you have any pets?
- Have you been to camp before?
- What classes are you taking?
- What weekend trip are you going on?
Remind them to be themselves – Make sure they remember that they should be genuine and they have so much to offer to the other students!
Summer camps are a great way for kids to create deep and lasting relationships over a short period of time. While some children don’t worry about the social element, we know that all children are different and that being away from home, especially for the first time, can be stressful. Preparing your child for summer camp can be the best way to make sure they have fun and make friends. We know and have seen firsthand that all children can make connections while they are learning and having the summer of their lives!
JKCP Summer Camps for Middle Schoolers
- Xploration for Middle School Students - JKCP's summer camp for middle schoolers is designed to help students find something they love. There are over 30 classes students can choose from each week. You can combine science and fashion, art and soccer, robotics and coding, cooking and DJ or choose from dozens of other combinations. Students can explore new subjects or dive deep into something they already love; the options are unlimited!
- Tennis Camp for Middle Schoolers - From beginner to advanced, there are unique tracks and electives all taught by international tennis pros make this a one-of-a-kind tennis camp.
- Golf Camp for Middle Schoolers - Learn the correct grip, aim and posture for different aspects of the golf game. Learn course management like teeing off, understanding different parts of the golf course and stroke play. Use games and fun activities to learn and practice new skills.
- Esports Summer Camp - A two-week immersive esports summer program designed to give participants a complete overview of the esports ecosystem.
- UK Elite Soccer Camp - This is a one-week residential soccer program sponsored by UK Elite Soccer Program. The key to UK Elites’ success is simple – excellent coaches teaching the game they love.
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