Being a responsible parent has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world. This is because every parent is constantly faced with a barrage of critical choices or decisions to make for the overall well-being of their children, on almost a daily basis especially when those kids are at a very young age.
Whether or not kids should attend a camp, specifically a residential camp is definitely a lingering issue that always leads to a hot debate among parents.
Some say it is a good opportunity for young kids to learn many critical life skills and lessons such as teamwork, healthy competition, personal independence, meeting new people, a sense of adventure, and basic cooking techniques.
Other skeptical parents regard it as a short-term, unnecessarily expensive, somewhat unregulated and potentially dangerous way getting your kids out of your way into the care of some other third party.
So, you as the adult parent can handle other necessary business without the distractions of needing to care for the whims of the young child every day.
Unlike the popular day camps where the kids are sent back home after a fun-filled day of learning and physical activities, residential camp allow kids to stay overnight.
Ranging from just a few days to about two full months, depending of course on the holiday schedule of the child in question.
So, how do you as a loving parent determine whether your child is ready to attend a residential camp?
Current Age And Development Rate Of The Child
No two kids develop physically, emotionally and psychologically at the same rate.
For example, it is a well-known fact that at a younger age, most girls develop fast growth spurts earlier than their male counterparts of the same age.
As far as residential camps are concerned, children between 7-8 years old are usually considered to be of age to go to a camp.
The key focus here is their level of intelligence, maturity and self-confidence, not necessarily their actual age.
Ability To Manage Their Personal Hygiene Without Constant Adult Supervision
This criterion is actually a no-brainer. Any child who is consistently able to get up in the morning to take a clean shower, comb or brush their hair, brush their teeth, wear a clean dress and in some cases and wash their own clothes.
All with little or no adult supervision on a daily basis should have little to no difficulty in maintaining that level of hygiene in a residential camp, away from the watchful eyes of the parents.
A lot of people do see this as irrelevant because most residential camps have in-house supervisors and counselors who ensure that the kids in question perform their basic hygiene duties daily.
While that may be so, it is still best to send your kids to residential camp only when they demonstrate a keen ability to care for themselves at the most basic level.
Their Ability To Relate And Learn Well With Other Kids In A Group
Teamwork and cooperation with other kids in achieving certain positive objectives is one of the critical lifelong lessons residential camps offer to kids.
However, this advantage is usually a seeming obstacle for your child if he or she is having some difficulties in learning with other children. This is especially common among home-schooled children.
One way of helping your child to overcome this issue before residential camp age is to enroll them in fun group engagements such as ballet/dance class, music lessons, karate and other forms of self-defense classes.
You could also encourage them to take part in team sports activities from a younger age such as football, basketball, soccer and even cooking.
Their Ability To Adapt To Changes And New Environments
While the terms “Momma’s Boy” might sound derogatory or demeaning in certain context, children who are too attached to their parents and are fully dependent on their physical closeness would find it difficult to adapt to life in a residential camp.
In spite of the numerous fun adventures available at camp, having to be far away from their parents at such a young age in an unfamiliar environment, eating unfamiliar food and dealing with other children and unfamiliar adult faces may prove too much for the child to handle at such a young age.
Such a child might develop homesickness and shut down mentally from all the sights, sounds, fun adventures and new learning opportunities abound the camp environment.
A simple way to avoid this is to gradually ease the child to residential camp environments for a shorter timeframes (a day or two) first and gauging their ability to adapt before sending them in for longer periods.
Their Willingness To Obey and Follow Instructions
Accompanying every fun activity, environment and potential to learn lifelong lessons within every good residential camp also lies hidden dangers and situations as well.
This is why your child’s ability to recognize authority and follow simple instructions especially those related to his or her safety and overall well-being is one of the many critical factors which you as a parent should keep in mind.
You should only consider sending the child with problems recognizing authority to a residential camp only if the camp in question teaches the kids using basic paramilitary principles.
This is because it will help instill a sizable level of discipline and a greater sense of responsibility, thus helping them overcome their seemingly rebellious nature.
Children with Special Needs or Disabilities
Modern educational principles within the current digital age has shown that there are many children with special physical disabilities or learning needs.
This has given rise to the demand for camps for autistic kids, kids suffering from Attention Deficit-disorder (ADD), blind and other physically impaired children etc.
As stated earlier, there are even camps for kids with potential genius intelligence… and for kids with a high developed physical ability and talent for specific sports.
So don’t worry too much if you feel your child has special needs. There is a special residential camp for him or her out there.
Feel free to get in touch with our residential camp advisor if you’d like to know more on sending your kids on a camping holiday.