March 20, 2024 Category: Our Programs

10 Ways to Know Your Child Is Ready for Camp 

Going to sleepaway camp for the first time is a very exciting experience and big milestone, though it is very normal for both campers and parents to be nervous!  

The Fresh Air Fund works with families to help prepare both parents and children for their first summer at camp and help ease the transition of adapting to a new environment. Our goal is to make sure everyone feels comfortable, prepared and, most importantly, excited for their summer adventure! 

Here are 10 ways to know if your child is ready for camp. 

1. Your child wants to go to camp

Has your child expressed an interest in summer camp? Is your child eager to learn how to swim, go hiking or try archery? Many kids look forward to meeting new people, spending time outdoors and learning new skills. If your child is excited for these opportunities, then they will love all of the new experiences and activities they will get to try at camp! 

Summers with The Fresh Air Fund is an amazing opportunity to make lifelong friends!

2. Your child has successfully spent a night away from you with family or friends 

One of the hardest transitions for children starting camp is being away from home for an extended period of time. Campers can experience homesickness, but our counselors are always prepared to support them. If your child is comfortable spending a night away from home with family or friends, that is a great indication that they will be able to adjust to camp. 

3. Your child gets ready for school independently 

At The Fresh Air Fund’s camps, children develop independence. This includes responsibilities like keeping their cabins clean, making their beds and keeping track of their clothes and other belongings. Children should feel comfortable with a daily routine of getting dressed and ready for school independently, and brushing their teeth and bathing independently, before beginning camp so that they can further develop independence and responsibility while at camp. 

4. Your child is comfortable asking for help from you, teachers or other adults when they need it 

Our camps have at least a 1:6 staff to child ratio, meaning there is always an adult or counselor to offer support to children when they need it. Prospective campers should feel comfortable asking questions or for help when necessary. Open communication is key between campers and counselors. 

Children learn the value of teamwork at camp.

5. Your child is comfortable interacting and solving conflicts with peers 

Camp is an opportunity to build teamwork skills and connect with new people, so your child should be comfortable navigating minor issues or conflicts with other children. While counselors will always be there to help, we encourage campers to develop problem-solving skills and handle conflict with open communication. 

6. Your child is able to self-regulate and express emotions in an age-appropriate way 

For campers to have the best possible experience at camp, it is important that they are able to express their emotions in an age-appropriate way. We encourage our campers to talk about their feelings to their counselors if something is wrong.  

Campers get to step out of their comfort zone and explore the outdoors with The Fresh Air Fund.

7. Your child understands they will be spending a lot of time outdoors and may be sleeping in rustic cabins 

Most of the day at camp is spent outside! Children should know they will be spending a lot of the day outdoors and be prepared for some things that are a part of being in nature, such as dealing with bugs, heat and a lot of physical activity. None of our cabins have air conditioning and some are rustic without electricity and separate bathhouses (in a nearby building). Though different from NYC, campers should be excited for outdoor fun including sports, hiking, swimming and, of course, s’mores!  

8. You are comfortable being separated from your child for the time they will be at camp 

Just like children may feel homesick while at camp, parents may find it hard for their children to be away from home. Parents should feel comfortable having their child away from home for the time period they are at camp. While campers will not have access to electronics or phones for communication, we encourage parents and campers to write letters to stay in touch! Parents can also call the camp office with any specific concerns. 

9. Your child understand that camp will be screen free and a time to disconnect from electronics and social media 

Children are not allowed to bring electronics, such as cell phones, iPads, smart watches and music players with them to camp. Their experience will be completely disconnected from screen time, the internet and social media. Your child should be prepared to spend their time at camp completely screen free! Children interested in taking photos are encouraged to bring disposable cameras to capture their summer memories! 

Building new skills is a highlight of going to sleepaway camp!

10. Your child is interested in trying new things 

One of the highlights of camp is the opportunity to try new things! The Fresh Air Fund offers many different activities that most campers have never experienced before, such as archery, swimming, kayaking/boating, guitar lessons and hiking. Your child should be ready to come to camp with an open mind, ready to learn new skills and have new experiences!  

Please click here to read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about camp. When you and your child have talked about if they are ready for camp, sign them up here