You know you want your child to go to summer camp. You’ve read how camp builds confidence, teaches valuable social skills, and encourages values like respect and responsibility. And the friendships and memories will last a lifetime! But you may also wonder if your child is ready for camp. Are they mature enough? Will they get homesick?

Camp Wood YMCA understands that the answers to these questions will vary for every child. So we’ve compiled a checklist to help you and your child make the decision together.

Encourage independence. Encourage your child to take charge of their own morning and bedtime routines. Let them brush their teeth, shower, and get dressed on their own. Do they do a (mostly) good job? If so, they’ll be able to handle these everyday tasks at camp.

Practice being away from home. If your child has never spent a night or two at a friend’s house, now is the time to try. If they do well, they’re probably ready for summer camp. A little homesickness is OK, but if they have to talk to you every few hours for reassurance, they may not be ready for residence camp just yet.

Talk it out. Have an open conversation with your child about camp. What are they looking forward to? What are they worried about? Help them to address their fears while encouraging them that camp is a very welcoming place.

Visit camp ahead of time. Often, seeing the cabins they’ll sleep in and getting an idea of the general layout of camp will help relieve much of the anxiety children feel. All families are invited to our Open House and Centennial Celebration on Saturday, May 7th, 2016. Bring your future camper and let them explore a little. Then, when they return this summer, camp will be a familiar place where they feel comfortable.

Trust your instincts. If you really feel that your 6 year-old is ready for camp, they probably are. On the other hand, if you worry that your 8 year-old may need another year, they probably do. Parents know their children best and it’s up to you and your child to decide when they are ready for camp. If either of you still have concerns about a full week of camp, you can try to ease into the experience with one of the following options:

  • Mini-Camp: Designed for children ages 5 to 8, Mini-Camp is a four-day, three night session geared towards the special needs and interests of our youngest campers. This is a great introduction to residence camp, letting children sample a variety of classic summer camp activities, but shortening their stay so that homesickness is less of a factor. Learn more about Mini-Camp.
  • Family Camp: For the first time ever, Camp Wood will be offering summertime family camps. Your family can choose the length of your stay (from 1 to 6 nights) and which activities you do each day. Though family campers are kept separate from regular summer campers for activities, everyone will share meals together in Ritchie Lodge. For both parents and future campers, family camp will give you sneak peek into summer camp and help you feel comfortable with the experience. Learn more about Summer Family Camp.

We know that when and where you send your child for summer camp is an important decision. At Camp Wood YMCA, we want to make that decision as easy as possible so that when you and your child arrive at camp, you BOTH feel comfortable with your decision. If you have any questions or concerns concerning your child’s upcoming camp experience, please call us at (620) 273-8641 or email us at