There is no magic age that a child will be suddenly ready to spend the night at camp. Many camps have a minimum age of around 7 years old, but just because your child is the right age, does not mean that you should be sending them away to overnight camp rather than a day camp. There are a number of things you should consider before sending your child away to a week-long or even overnight camp that could help to ensure everyone is happy with your camp decision.
-Talk it over with your child. Are they eager or asking to go? Talk to them about their ideas and expectations of what camp could be. The decision to go to camp will be a much smoother decision if your child is involved. If they want to go to overnight camp that’s a great sign that they might be ready to go!
-Anticipate homesickness. Make sure they understand what sleep away camp is, and that attending means making a commitment to stick it out and really experience their full week at camp. They need to be made aware that if they get homesick, coming home or calling you isn’t their first option. You also need to prepare yourself for the possibility that your child may get homesick and make a game plan for how to deal with it. Come up with a solution that will work for both you and your child.
-Sometimes ‘they’re not ready’ can really mean ‘you’re not ready’. Your children are the most important thing in the world to you and you are the most important thing in the world to them. If overnight camp still seems like a little too long to have your child away from you, then that’s okay. It’s often overlooked that you both need to be ready to make the transition to sleep away camp, so make sure that you’re just as mentally prepared for the separation as they are.
-If your parenting style is to push your child to do something they haven’t yet experienced so they can grow and learn, then sending them to an overnight camp once they reach the minimum age might be a good option for you. They’ll adapt and meet new friends and most likely have a fantastic time even though they may be hesitant at the beginning. On the contrary, if your parenting style is to wait until they are older- that’s also an option. Many children start camp at a later age, just make sure that at whatever age you are sending your child to camp that they are properly prepared for the experience.
-Your child’s temperament and personality. Is your child independent? You’ll want to make sure they are able to do activities independently before they are ready to go away to an overnight camp. This means that they aren’t at your side instead of playing alone or with friends when they have free time. Make sure they can complete most- if not all- of their daily hygiene tasks by themselves. Even with a well trained staff readily available to your child throughout their camping experience you’ll want to make sure that your child is ready to handle taking some responsibility for their own care while they’re away.
- Worrying about your child’s care should not be one of the reasons preventing you from sending them to a properly accredited overnight camp. All accredited camps- in every Canadian province- are held to a very high standard. The staff are well trained, and ready to handle any situation that may occur while your child is there, and the facilities are kept to the highest standard of safety and accessibility.
-Have they been away overnight from you before? Camp may not be the best option for their very first time away from home. If you are worried about your child sleeping away from home for the first time you may want to let them have a few sleepovers at a friend’s or family member’s house so that they can get used to the idea of sleeping somewhere else or their parents not being at the ready before shipping them off to a week of summer camp.
- Lastly, if you’re looking through this article looking for a magic age, know that there isn’t one. Every child is different and develops at their own pace, and every parent has different goals and expectations of their child. The average age that children start to attend sleep away camps is between seven and nine years old, but that doesn’t mean that a ten or even thirteen year old child can’t have just as wonderful a time their first time away from home at camp.
We hope that these tips help to make your decision a little easier. If you have any further concerns about which type of camp is right for your child please discuss it with the director of the camp that you’re interested in, or have an open conversation with your child to get everyone on the same page. The transition to over night camp doesn’t have to be a hard one, and we hope that you have a wonderful first time- sleep away- experience with the camps you find on Canadian Adventure!
Everyone knows the value of getting away from routines and technology to spend time in nature. Around the world, kids feel a different kind of energy take hold as their camp busses roll off highways through camp gates each summer.
Beginning in 1946, Camp Bil-O-Wood Has been run by the Ludwig Family for generations.
Keats Camps has been serving youth and families for over 85 years as a part of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. Thriving during the summer months, our property comes alive with over a thousand campers & staff and all of their visiting parents & friends.
Founded in 1940, Manitoba Pioneer Camp has been operating ever since as a life-changing summer camp for children and youth. It is part of a network of nine Inter-Varsity Camps across Canada.