How Young Is Too Young for Camp?

How Young Is Too Young for Camp?

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Find out the youngest age you should consider sending your child to summer camp and read expert advice on how to decide if your child is ready to attend day camp.


How young is too young for camp?
It’s less about age and more about how well they separate from you. If your 2-year-old has successfully separated, then a well-structured day camp might be a wonderful experience over the summer months. But if your little one has not been through the separation process, then a camp can be an overwhelming experience that sets them back. A shorter, gentle summer class that works towards separation may be more appropriate in that case.

My child has separated. What should I look for in a camp to give them the best possible experience?
No matter how well your little one has separated in the past, they may have a little trouble with the new schedule, friends, and environment. Look for a program that specializes in young campers.

It’s all about the three C’s: counselors, curriculum, and comfort. 

  • Counselors: Camp staff need to be not only comfortable, but skilled in working with small children. They should be able to handle everything from separation anxiety to potty training. This is vital.  
     
  • Curriculum: Is the camp program basically expensive day care or will your child be engaged and challenged with interesting projects and exciting activities? Bored little ones will not enjoy themselves.
     
  • Comfort: keep them close to home. Find a great program in your neighborhood in a facility that is made for the pre-K set. A high school gymnasium is going to feel scary while a preschool classroom will feel safe and familiar.
     

What are the benefits to attending camp for children this young?
Students who separated over the school year often regress and have difficulty going back to a separation schedule after a summer at home. A fun classroom environment over the summer—even with sporadic breaks for vacations—can help to remind them that they can have fun while being apart from you. It’s also a great way for them to make new friends, learn to bond with new teachers (very important—especially if they will have different teachers next year), and continue to develop all the other wonderful cognitive, social, and physical skills that they built over the past school year!


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