Parent Guide to Overnight Camps

Author: Eric Wittenburg, Berkshire Soccer Academy
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As a full-time, year round office, we spend a lot of time planning and preparing the most incredible overnight soccer experience we can.  However, our preparation is only half of the work that needs to be done to ensure the girls that attend the Berkshire Soccer Academy have a successful overnight stay. This is an especially important topic for us because many of the girls that attend are coming for their first residential camp experience. Although each family may not have the same amount of time as we do to prepare for the summer, here are the top 10 things to do with your family to prepare for a very successful first time overnight camp experience.

1. Practice Makes Permanent

Parents: Talk with your daughter about how she will get to camp. What will that morning look like? What will happen at home while she is gone? Emphasize that she will not miss anything important that week. Do a test-drive of the trip, either in the car or via Internet map. If you can, join us at the Spring Open House on June 14th to get acquainted with the Academy before the summer.

Campers: Plan a 1 or 2-night sleep-over with a family member or friend. If you cannot make it to our Spring Open House on June 14th, review our website to meet the Directors, counselors, and coaches; and check out photos of the Academy. Start getting excited and more comfortable about your upcoming summer adventure.

2. Be Optimistic and Be Honest

Parents: Camp is going to be awesome. Your daughter will try new things, meet new people, and learn more about herself. Let her know that you are confident she will thrive at camp. If you let her know that you believe she can do it, she will be much more likely to succeed.

If you are nervous about camp, or sense that your daughter is, talk with her about those emotions. Share what’s on your mind openly and honestly…but with an optimistic outlook: “Honey, I’m nervous; I will miss you this week. But I am also very excited for you to have your first sleep-away camp experience.” Just remember, on Arrival Day, dial back your emotions and save them for after camp. If she sees you feeling sad or remorseful, she will feel the same.

Campers: Remember that camp is a place where you can be your best self. List the top 5 things you are most excited to experience at camp. Share this list with your parents. Also, talk through any concerns you may have with them. Be honest with yourself and with your parents.

3. Pack Early, Pack Together

Parents: Packing is an important physical and emotional part of preparing for camp. But if left to the last minute, packing will often create more stress and concern. The earlier you start the process, the more time your daughter will have to ready herself. Print and review our Packing List from the Athlete Handbook weeks before camp. Set out her suitcase or duffle bag a week or two before camp. Your daughter can help you fill the bag and check each item off the list as you go. Now, there is plenty of time to pick up last-minute things at the store. This way, packing for camp can be a big stress reliever.

Fun Tip: Sneak in a surprise note telling her how proud you feel, and how much you love her.

Campers: Go through the BSA Packing List with your parents, and make sure you have everything you need for camp. Knowing where you put each item in your bag will help you unpack when you get to the Academy.

4. Bring a Special Comfort from Home

Parents: Help your daughter pack an appropriate comfort from home; such as a pillow, stuffed animal, photo, or special book. Remember, we do not allow campers to bring food or cell phones to the Academy. They unnecessarily distract from our fun-filled program.

Campers: Even the counselors do this! Bring your favorite pillow pet, book, blanket, picture frame, etc. Make your cabin your home away from home!

5. Set a Goal

Parents: Help your daughter set a specific, measurable goal for her time at camp. In your letters and phone call with your daughter, ask her about her progress on this goal.

Campers: What do you want to get out of going away to soccer camp? Do you want to improve your soccer skills? Do you want to meet new friends? Do you want to catch a fish? Make a goal that is specific to you before camp even starts. Write your goal down, and share it with your family and/or friends before heading to camp.

6. Plan to Communicate

Parents: Discuss a communication plan with your daughter so expectations are clear. Just remember, less is more! With one optional phone-call home per session, and unlimited hand-written and electronic letters, you will have plenty of opportunities to “check in” with your daughter without jeopardizing her camp experience. Visit our “Communication Booth” at Camper Orientation if you have any questions about how to stay in touch.

Campers: During your next sleepover, practice not calling your parents to say goodnight. Also, we have designed an easy-to-remember list of topics for you to focus on when writing or talking to your parents from camp. These are described in detail at our our complete “AWAY FROM HOME” guide.

7. Connect with Others Before Camp

Parents: Join our “2015 Berky Parents” Facebook group, and connect with other camper parents and guardians. You can also call our office and to get connected with a returning family that can share helpful advice with you.

Campers: Follow @berkysoccer on Instagram. Connect with other campers and get involved in the Berky Instagram contests. Tag @Berkysoccer and #berkybraids for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the BSA Camp Store! Check out our latest newsletter, the Spring 2015 Berky Blast, for more details.

8. Go to Bed Early the Night Before Camp

Parents: This one is for your daughter… and you! Get a good night’s rest!

Campers: Lay out your clothes and get plenty of sleep the night before camp. Show up to the Academy alert, energized, and ready to hit the field at high energy.

9. Take a Break and Don’t Feel Guilty 

Parents: Let’s face it, parenting is tough stuff. Letting go and enjoying the idea that your child can thrive under the nurturing care of someone else can be liberating. You need to recharge your battery too, get perspective, and have grown-up time.  As a result, you can be a better parent when your daughter returns home.

Campers: Encourage Mom and Dad to do something they enjoy while you are at camp. You will be having the time of your life…so they should be allowed to have a little fun too!

10. Celebrate your Successes

Parents: Plan a dinner or fun event for after camp. This is the perfect place for your daughter to shine and to tell you all about her favorite camp memories and accomplishments.

Campers: Help your parents plan an event with your friends and family where you can share your favorite parts of camp with everyone!