Preparing Your Child for Sleepaway Camp

Preparing Your Child for Sleepaway Camp

Parents Guide to Successful Camp for Kids

Sending your child to sleepaway camp can be both an exciting and a nerve-wracking experience for you and your child. It’s an excellent opportunity though for your child to develop independence and social skills and can play an essential role in your child’s growth and development. 

While it’s natural to feel homesick, your child can come home with new friends and a greater sense of maturity. To gain the most benefit from camp, preparing them for the experience is vital, which begins with preparation on your part. Yes, there is a lot to do, but it is worth the benefits your child will gain from the experience.

Benefits of Sleepaway Camp

  1. Independence and Confidence: Sleepaway camps provide a unique opportunity for children to gain independence and confidence by spending time away from their parents and learning to independently navigate new social and environmental situations.
  2. Social Skills: At a sleepaway camp, children get to meet and interact with other children from different backgrounds and cultures, helping them develop valuable social skills and broaden their perspectives.
  3. Outdoor Activities: Sleepaway camps often offer a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, canoeing, and other outdoor sports. Such activities promote physical fitness and allow children to develop a love for nature and the outdoors.
  4. Personal Growth: Sleepaway camps often offer activities encouraging personal growth and self-discovery. These can include team-building exercises, leadership training, and other activities that help children identify their strengths and weaknesses. Some camps train kids to become counselors or serve in different leadership positions.
  5. Lifelong Memories: Sleepaway camp can be an unforgettable experience for children, and the memories and friendships made at camp can last a lifetime. Most children are ready to benefit from an overnight camp at about 8 or 9 years of age.
  6. Reduced Screen Time: Camps often have rules about technology use, which can help children unplug from screens and focus on socializing, physical activity, and being present in the moment.

Managing logistics

Here is a short guide on preparation so they have a great experience at camp.

  • Involve your child in the planning process. Let your child help choose the camp they’ll attend and the activities they want to participate in. If they are younger, going to a center that offers a variety of activities will introduce them to activities that may be new to them. 
  • Share the decision-making. You’re more likely to find a good fit when you involve your kids in the selection process. Split up the workload for researching camps with gymnastic programs or chemistry labs. Sit down together to review websites and brochures.
  • Check on accreditation. The American Camp Association ( bases accreditation on strict health, safety, and program quality standards. It’s one good way to ensure you leave your child in capable hands. 
  • Learning about specific camps. If possible, take a trip to see the camp before dropping your child off. Talking with the staff in person may reveal more information than you can obtain from a website or phone call. If a visit is impossible, speak to parents who have experience sending their children to the camps you and your child are considering. 

Questions to ask other parents

    1.   What camp did your child attend, and for how many years did they go?
    2.   What was your child’s overall experience like at the center?
    3.   What activities did the camp offer, and did your child enjoy them?
    4.   How were the camp counselors and staff, and did they seem qualified and responsible?
    5.   Was the camp well-organized and safe?
    6.   How was the communication between the camp and parents?
    7.   Did your child make new friends at camp, and were the social dynamics positive?
    8.   How did the camp handle homesickness or other issues that arose?
    9.   Was the camp’s food and accommodations satisfactory?
    10.   Would you recommend this camp to other parents, and why or why not?

Asking these questions can help parents better understand what a specific sleepaway camp is like and whether it may be a good fit for their child.

  • Plan for the costs. With such a wide variety of camps available, you can look for something within your budget. For example, overnight camps typically charge $900 or more a week.
  • Pack appropriately & together. Pack with your child and ensure they have everything they need for camp. Think about clothing, toiletries, bedding, and any special items they want to bring. Your camp will send you a list of what to pack. Leave yourself enough time to label each item to prevent them from getting lost. While you’re at it, break in any new footwear.
  • See your doctor. Let your family doctor know that your child is heading to camp. Kids may need to complete a physical or make arrangements for taking prescription medications.

Preparing your child socially and emotionally

Talk about the camp experience. Start by talking to your child about what to expect at camp. Explain the daily routine, the types of activities they’ll be doing, and how long they’ll be away from home. Ensure your child understands that it’s normal to feel homesick but that they’ll be able to cope and have fun.

Practice separation. If your child has yet to spend much time away from you, practicing separation before camp is essential. Start by leaving them with a trusted friend or family member for a few hours, then gradually increase the time apart. Doing so will help your child feel more comfortable with the idea of being away from home. Grandparents would probably enjoy a weekend visit, and it is an excellent place to start with young campers.

Role play. Help your child feel more comfortable by acting out situations they’re likely to encounter at camp. For example, practice finding your way around the backyard at night with a flashlight. Practice sharing a care package with other campers.

Discuss camp rules and expectations. Make sure your child understands the rules and expectations of the camp. Things like curfews, meal times, and activity schedules at most campsites will be non-negotiables. Discuss any concerns or questions they may have, and encourage them to ask their counselors for help if they need it. 

Agree on communications. Based on camp rules, let your child know they can always communicate with you by writing letters, sending emails, or talking on the phone at camp. Ensure they have the necessary contact information for you and any other emergency contacts. Most programs may limit the timing and number of phone calls or packages. It’s easier for your child to adapt if they know what to expect.

Encourage independence. Encourage your child to be independent while at camp. This includes making their bed, managing their hygiene, and deciding on activities. Taking charge of their responsibilities will help them build confidence and feel more prepared for the future.

Coming Home

When a child returns home from a sleepaway camp, it can be an exciting and emotional time for both the child and parents. Here are some tips on how parents can welcome their child home in a way that is supportive and allows them to share their experience:

    • Show excitement: Show your child how happy you are to see them by greeting them with a big hug or smile. Make them feel welcome, and let them know that you missed them.
    • Give them space: While showing excitement is important, giving your child space to adjust to being home is essential. Don’t overwhelm them with too many questions or demands right away.
    • Ask open-ended questions: When your child is ready to talk, ask open-ended questions, encouraging them to share their experience. For example, “What was your favorite part of camp?” or “What was the most challenging thing you faced at camp?”
    • Listen actively: Listen to your child’s answers without interrupting or judging. Encourage them to share as much or as little as they want, and be supportive and empathetic.
    • Plan a fun activity: Plan a fun activity or outing that your child will enjoy, such as going to the park or watching a movie together. Family activities can help your child feel more relaxed and comfortable.
    • Be patient: Remember that it may take some time for your child to fully adjust to being home and process their camp experience. Be patient and continue to show support and understanding.

Preparing your child for sleepaway camp takes time and effort, but it’s worth it for the experiences and memories they’ll gain. Following these tips will help ensure that your child has a fun and successful time at camp.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth

Setting Your Life Priorities

Are the complexities and chaos of life leaving you confused at times and struggling to figure out the next step that is best for you and your family? Whether young or old, single or with a partner, setting priorities is crucial for living a fulfilling and purposeful life. It helps us align our actions with our values and goals.

When you were young and single, your priorities often involved personal growth, self-discovery, career building, or education. The activities we took part in may have had a goal that promoted physical, mental, and emotional well-being, such as exercise, travel, or pursuing hobbies. They may also have prioritized building skills, networking, or gaining experience in your field.

In contrast, parents’ priorities often revolve around their families’ well-being and their children’s growth and development. Family bonding, attending family events, children’s education, extracurricular activities, and emotional well-being are high on their list of priorities. Of course, your career and personal goals may loom large if you are a single parent. Still, generally, like all parents, you look at how your decisions contribute to your family’s overall well-being.

Either way, making those priority decisions is hard when everything feels necessary, and you struggle. On the parenting side, you may ask, “What activities will the children participate in?” What school will they attend? “Are the children on a developmental track?” Then the hard stuff begins. What are the house rules? How will I discipline and train my children? How are consequences determined and implemented? Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” When you’re a parent, it feels like that sometimes. We all know how we planned on parenting, and then we get punched in the mouth.

Setting your life’s priorities, or, as we say in the Four C’s of Successful Families, clarity in life, is more than just what the kids’ extracurricular activities and schooling will be. More important is having a vision, identifying values, and even a mission for your family. Knowing what you want for yourself and your family is critical for every family. Decision-making comes more effortlessly with a clarification of family values. Finally, there is a peaceful feeling knowing that you are doing what is suitable and correct for you, helping you feel more fulfilled and satisfied with life experiences for you and your children.

Here are some common life priorities.

      • Family
      • Education
      • Finances
      • Friends,
      • Extended family
      • Work
      • Hobbies
      • Personal appearance
      • Health and exercise
      • Nutritious eating
      • Alone time or partner time
      • Quality time with children

How you choose your priorities depends wholly on what you value. The virtues are the foundation of those values. Recognizing, identifying, and clarifying these virtues and values may take time and effort. However, once these are clear to you, your priorities, choices, and decisions in every part of your life will be much easier.

Before you begin this exercise, please be aware that there is a danger that you must be careful about. The risk with this exercise is that sometimes our answers get tainted by social norms or the ideas others place before us. Even our long-held beliefs can influence how we think we feel and not align with our true selves. So as you answer these questions and identify your values and priorities, take your time to reflect, examine, and be confident that those influences are not diminishing your beliefs and desires.

Here is a first step:

Choose one role: parent, employee, volunteer, student, etc. You can do this with all of your roles, but for now, choose one that is high on your list of priorities.

      • Write a brief description of your best self in this role.
      • Describe how you want to be in this role.
      • How do you want to be remembered by others?
      • What is the legacy you would like to leave?
      • How will you feel successful in this role?
      • Is there someone you admire for their activities in your chosen role? What is it about them that you admire?

In the role you chose, there is also likely a corresponding role. For example, if you chose “parent,” the related part would be the child. If you selected “spouse/partner,” it would be your spouse/partner. Now answer the following questions:

      • What are your expectations of them?
      • What would make them excellent in that role?
      • How do you want to describe them in that role?
      • Who do you know that you admire in this role, and why?

As you look at the answers to all these questions, what are the recurring themes or ideas? The words you see coming from these answers are no doubt what you value the most.

Now download the list of 100 virtues or go to our “100 Virtues” page at As you look at these virtues, which ones match what you have identified as being your best self?

Some virtues may not have yet developed the way you would like. Or you may notice some that you identify with closely and are pleased with how you show them. But, on the other hand, other virtues may appear overdeveloped—as in, maybe you should balance them with another virtue.

What is the value of this exercise? When you identify what you value the most—the virtues you respect for yourself and others—you can begin to determine what that looks like in your day-to-day life. It helps us make choices about everything by comparing those choices with who we aspire to be.

I invite you to sign up for our newsletter. It is a great way to get the Virtue of the Month and tips on relationships, parenting, and self-care. In addition, you’ll be the first to know about upcoming classes for successful families.

To sign up, visit the “Newsletter” section here on the website. Enter your email address, and you’ll receive our newsletter in your inbox on Wednesdays.  I appreciate your interest in bringing out the best in your children and yourself. We look forward to keeping you informed through our newsletter!

Why Unwinding Is Essential for Both You and Your Children

Why Unwinding Is Essential for Both You and Your Children

Overcome Common Barriers and Relax

We all know that unwinding is good for us. After all, think how wonderful it feels to relax after a long, difficult day! There’s no better way to shed stress or ease worry. Unfortunately, though, sometimes unwinding is easier said than done. 

If you’re having difficulty unwinding, it’s time for intentionality in your subsequent actions. First, look at some barriers to letting go and what you can do about them.

If you’re having difficulty unwinding, it’s time for intentionality in your subsequent actions. First, look at some barriers to letting go and what you can do about them.

Current Events Have You Down

The problem with being plugged in every second of the day is we become very aware of what’s happening in the world. It can lead to many worries and stress about things happening worldwide, and it seems impossible to relax at the end of the day. The fix? Limit your media exposure. For example, make a point not to watch the news before bed or allow yourself only a certain amount of time to follow the news every day.

You Feel Like There’s Too Much to Do

The problem with being busy is that it’s always possible to get busier. While this can be great news for your business, it can wreak havoc on your ability to end the day and unwind. The fix? Create a schedule where you quit all extra activities for the day at a specific time. Then, if anything is unfinished, jot it down on tomorrow’s to-do list and let it go so you can unwind properly.

You Don’t Have Time to Unwind

This can be difficult, especially if you’re used to scheduling your day to be busy. The problem? You’re leading yourself straight to burnout. The fix? It’s pretty simple. Start planning time to unwind every day. Be strict with yourself about using it.

You Don’t Think You Deserve Time Off

Unfortunately, we were taught to be productive every minute of the day since we were children. It leads to many complicated feelings about taking time off, even to unwind at the end of the day. The fix? A reality check can do wonders here. Unwinding is a crucial part of being productive. Without rest, you can’t possibly do more later. Want to go even better? Spend time rewiring your brain to accept one straightforward truth: YOU DESERVE TIME TO YOURSELF. We all do—end of story. 

All of these can be barriers for our children, too. For example, if your child’s usual way of being is interrupted, and you see changes in sleep, eating, or resting patterns, it could be that the local or world news worries them. They may need to talk and tell you how they are feeling. You may need to reassure them that you are there to keep them safe. 

In today’s world, children’s schedules are packed so tight with things that we have been told are necessary to succeed. Children need time to unwind and be children. However, scheduling them with back-to-back activities or activities every evening after school is too much for many, if not all, children. 

They deserve time off. They need time to unwind; they need time with you and your family; and, most importantly, they need you and family time. Even more importantly, they need you to set an example for them of what it means to be balanced in life.

Clarity about what is important to you and your family will help you choose how to spend your time. Don’t be influenced by what others tell you your child “should” do. Instead, relax, be your best self, and practice what you know is best for you and your family.

I invite you to sign up for our newsletter. It is a great way to get the Virtue of the Month and tips on relationships, parenting, and self-care. In addition, you’ll be the first to know about upcoming classes for successful families.

To sign up, visit the “Newsletter” section here on the website. Enter your email address, and you’ll receive our newsletter in your inbox on Wednesdays.  I appreciate your interest in bringing out the best in your children and yourself. We look forward to keeping you informed through our newsletter!

5 Tips to Get to Know Yourself Better

5 Tips to Get to Know Yourself Better

Practicing Self-Discipline Brings Great Results

Discipline is a term people toss around a lot. But what is it exactly? Is it the ability to control your impulses? The ability to focus on complex tasks even when you don't feel like it? Or maybe the ability to adhere to rules and guidelines even if you don't like them?

Here are five of the best tips to get to know yourself better. These tips will help jump-start your journey into self-reflection. By finding the answers you’ve been looking for, you can start to strive toward your true potential.

Let’s get started.

Tip #1: Be Still

For many people, it’s hard to sit alone in a quiet room and contemplate. They become uncomfortable and agitated.

Still, this is an important step to get to know the inner you, the part of you that is your true self. Be brave in the face of your imperfections and the self-talk. As soon as you begin to embrace the good as the real you; you can start discovering your true self.

It all starts when you take the time to sit still and listen to yourself. Think of it as a form of mindfulness meditation where you focus completely on the present moment.

Tip #2: Ask the Right Questions

Too many times, we knock ourselves down through negative self-talk. Instead, talk to yourself as you would a friend. Be kind and show empathy. The best way to do that is by asking self-discovery questions so you can get to know yourself better.

Write down the answers on post-its and hang them up next to your bed or bathroom mirror. You can also jot the answers down in a journal. In fact, experts say are journals are one of the most effective tools of self-awareness.

Here are some important questions you can ask yourself today:

  • What are my core values?
  • Who’s my biggest role model? Why?
  • What makes me feel safe? Or Who?
  • What are my short-term and long-term goals?

At the end of this article, you can download a full list of self-discovery questions.

Tip #3: Find Your Strengths

Each one of us is here for a reason. Each of us, adults and children have their own unique gifts, talents, skills, and temperament. Some things just come more naturally to each of us better than others. That’s the natural order of things.

Knowing what you’re good at is necessary on the journey of finding who you really are. Focusing on your strengths boosts self-confidence and increases your drive to achieve more. Only then, will you be able to make room for better, more productive things in your life.

Let’s not forget that it’s just as important to figure out what you’re not good at. Allow yourself to try different things. Then, by trial and error, you’ll know exactly what you’re good at and what you should steer clear of.

Interestingly enough, your strengths will almost always align with your core values. Together, they can help you manage your life path, both at home and at work.

Tip #4: Discover Your Passion

Now that you know what you’re good at, it’s time to hone in on the things that excite you and give your life meaning. This can be one thing or twenty—the point is to follow through.

Having that drive gives you purpose and strength. You savor each moment and push yourself to achieve new goals.

This positive energy you exude when you’re doing something you’re passionate about is vital. It allows you to want to be better and do more. That can only come when you truly enjoy what you’re doing.

Tip #5: Determine Your Call to Action

Your core values, purpose, and passion is unique to you. Now what is your call to action for those core values?

What are the behaviors you want to practice, that line up with your values? When you call yourself to action by behaving as your best self, your confidence rises, you feel good about yourself, you feel in alignment with your inner being.

When you feel frustrated, depressed, or angry it simply means you are not aligned with what you value.

This is one form of self-care that will work wonders for your self-esteem. Get to know yourself better and live your best self.  Watch those around you, especially your family respect you.

In Conclusion

We hope you found these five tips to get to know yourself better helpful. Figuring out who you are as an individual has many advantages for yourself and your family.

The most significant is that it puts things in perspective. It allows you to feel comfortable in the choices and decisions you make for yourself and your family. Knowing who you are keeps you from being swayed or overly influenced by the choices of others.

As a result, you’re able to focus more on your personal strengths and be more accepting of your weaknesses. Socrates also said, “Be as you wish to seem.” In other words, when you know what you want out of life, you know what you don’t want and the only thing that can hold you back is your imagination. So, be bold and dream big!

Getting to know yourself better is part of the first ‘C’ in the Four C’s of Successful Families. CLARITY is about the unifying set of values, virtues, mission, and purpose for your unique family (Team).  The other C’s are COMMUNICATION, CONSISTENCY, & COMMUNITY.


Want help getting to know yourself better? Download your full list of self-discovery questions. If you want, share them with other members of your family, especially your partner.

Self-Discovery Questions Download Below