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Are You and Your Child Ready For Camp?

How To Prepare For Your Child's First Trip At Camp

Summer camp is a fun-filled ritual for millions of American children. Going to camp helps kids build independence and self-esteem, make friends, learn about teamwork, and try a variety of sports, crafts, and outdoor activities. The best way to ensure summer camp success is to choose the right kind of camp for your child.

First, decide whether your child should go to sleep-away camp or day camp. Age is one factor to consider, but so are your child's temperament, personality, and life experiences. There's no "right" age for sleep-away camp, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Some kids are ready at age 5 or 6; for others, waiting until age 13 or 14 is more appropriate.

Next, think about whether your child would do better at a camp with a specific focus -- soccer, computers, or horseback riding, for example -- or a camp with a wide variety of activities. Involve your child in the choice, because children who are excited about going to camp are more likely to enjoy it.

Finally, if your child goes to sleep-away camp, understand that some initial homesickness is normal, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, once your child makes friends and begins to get swept up in camp activities, homesickness should lessen.

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