“Is she ready for a week at sleepaway camp?”
Parents, that is an excellent question to ask before registering your daughter for a week at camp. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to talk this one over with many parents. The younger your child is, the more important it is to try to answer this question.
Begin by establishing for yourself why you’re even considering something as crazy as sending an 8-year-old into the woods without you for a week (or two!). I’d sum it up like this: I want her to have the opportunity to practice and grow in independence in a safe and supportive place where she experiences Christian community and discovers more about who God made her to be and the relationship He wants to have with her. (If you want to read more about some of my reasons for sending a daughter to camp, check out the other Insider Mom posts.)
Because I believe something so important comes from a camp experience, I think every girl should get there as soon as possible. But not every child is ready is to experience that for the first time at the same age. When I’m talking with a parent who is asking the question about whether her daughter is ready for camp, I present one question for their consideration:
Does your daughter want to go this year?
If your daughter wants to do it, that’s typically the sign that she’s ready.
If she wants to go and you still feel uncertain, you’re probably the one who’s not ready. It’s tough to imagine that she can survive without you for a week! (Read more about that here.)
Growth comes through pushing a little bit past where we’re comfortable. However, if we push too far at once, we usually get a setback instead of growth. If your daughter is ready to take a next step, that’s a good sign that this will be a place of growth.
One of my daughters would have been happy to go as a first-grader if camp allowed it. My other daughter wasn’t so sure about being away for a full week. She did a father-daughter retreat and loved that, but that fall she was still telling me she wasn’t sure she wanted to go for a week. Everything in me wanted to just talk her into it and tell her she had to because she was going to love it. Thankfully, a wiser inner voice prevailed, and I just listened to her and waited it out. All of a sudden, she had the camp postcard and was telling me to sign her up. She was ready.
Parenting is full of questions like these! There’s no owner’s manual to tell us exactly when to send this kid to camp. We just have to take what we know, pray it through, and keep moving forward. I’ll be praying for you as you make your camp decisions.
Danielle “Olli” Hedgepeth has been a camper, CILT, counselor, Division Director, and Assistant Director at camp. Now, she’s a a Cedarbrook board member and a camp mom – our “Insider Mom!” Outside of camp, she is the Director of Children’s Ministries of Loudonville Community Church in Loudonville, NY.
Check out these other blog posts about the value of camp!