My eleven year old is heading off to overnight church camp for the first time this year! I know he’s going to have a great time, but he tends to worry when facing the unknown. So we’re doing all we can to help him be comfortable and successful. Here’s the plan:
We’ll pack his outfits in bags with the days labeled on them. He won’t run out of clothes this way, and hopefully he’ll remember to actually change his clothes each day.
We’ll send snacks. David has a corn allergy and corn is a pretty tricky ingredient! (Think of everything that has corn syrup in it.) We don’t want him to worry about not having enough to eat or missing out on fun snacks like popcorn, so we’ll make some trail mix in little baggies he can grab when he needs to. Our favorite trail mix recipe: Frosted Cheerios, raisins, banana chips, M&Ms, and peanuts. We pack it in snack-sized baggies at home and keep them in the freezer so we can grab them on our way out the door!
We’re teaching him to put on his own sunscreen. It’s always been faster for me to do it for him, but I won’t be around. And he got my fair skin and freckles, so it’s necessary. Since we’ll have a few pool and beach days between now and camp, he’ll get lots of practice.
We’ll remind him God is always with him. Anxiety is real and hard, especially when you’re young and have very little control over your environment. When he gets worked up and needs to calm down, we breathe in and out repeating, “God loves me. God is with me.” Before he leaves for camp, I’ll write those words on a note card he can keep in his pillow case to remind himself of the truth.
We hope that by preparing him the best we can, he’ll be able to focus on having fun and making new friends!
Have your sons done overnight camp before? What advice can you share?
This is timely for me. My soon-to-be-14 y.o. son has always refused to even consider an overnight camp. He has even gone so far as to act out so as to sabotage his chances for joining his classmates on the school camp. He has been invited by the youth pastor at our church for the High School camp/retreat this summer as an incoming freshman. I advised the youth pastor to issue the invitation in person to him and to keep encouraging my son as the time draws near. We will see. I am excited to see how others have approached this issue in kind and creative ways.