OT - sending DD7 to overnight camp, tell me I shouldn't worry

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by fac, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. fac

    fac DIS Veteran

    Jun 6, 2004
    I always like DD to try overnight camp. She will be 8 in August and will be going to grade 3 next year as such she is old enough to be accepted by some overnight camps in YMCA.

    I had considered sending her last year, but thought she was a bit too young. I brought it during brunch with DH today, his only comment to DD was "make sure you know how to take care of yourself" meaning take a shower, brush her teeth, change for swimming etc.. DD is interested to go as well.

    Seriously, I am not concern on the above, nor the swimming and climbing lessons. I just worry that she does not know how to protect herself, say walking in the dark and against sexual predators. None of her friends is going for overnight camps, therefore she will not know anyone initially.

    Should I worry? Has anyone sent their DDs to overnight camp at 7? How do you prepare them?
  2. MrsPete

    MrsPete DIS Veteran

    Feb 24, 2002
    If her camp is like the ones I attended (and worked at) when I was younger, she'll not be left alone to walk in the dark or to be confronted by strangers. Her counselors will supervise her everyday, all day. They'll walk to the dining hall together as a group. She will not be able to say, "I think I'll go swimming this morning"; rather, her counselor will say, "We're all going swimming in 30 minutes. Go get on your swimsuits and meet me by the picnic table quickly." They'll gather their things and go to the showers together in the evenings. She will not have much free-choice time -- and that's age-appropriate.

    The one wildcard that can vary from camp to camp would be the nighttime sleeping arrangements. Some camps have counselors sleeping in the cabins with kids, others have counselors in a nearby cabin. You'll have to check with her particular camp.

    I'd say that the golden rule is NEVER send a kid to sleep-away camp too soon. She needs to have a great time her first year, so that she'll want to go again in future years. If you send her too soon, and if she gets homesick or isn't able to keep up, she'll never want to go back. I think YOU are the best judge of this; gut reaction -- do you think she's ready?

    As for how to prepare her: Attend a parents' weekend ahead of time so she can see the type of cabin she'll sleep in, see where the bathrooms are, see how far away the dining hall is. Being able to manage her own gear is an important skill. Have her help pack her duffle bag so she knows where everything is. Is she ready to put her dirty clothes in a bag, keep up with her things as she goes to and from the bathroom, etc? If not, work on these skills now.
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  4. fac

    fac DIS Veteran

    Jun 6, 2004
    Thanks. We went to a family camp last year in the same camp site and was able to speak with the counselor. She will sleep in the same cabin with the girls. DD is familiar with the environment. When I brought it up, she even remebered the counselor's name.

    I think if she can make new friends, she will not be homesick. On the other hand, it gives her an opportunity to learn to adjust herself to the environment (am I cruel?)

    I am not concerned on strangers, rather than people who works in the camp. A year ago, a new family moved to our neighbourhood. While playing in the front yard, DD met the girl who was a year older than her and was invited to play in her house on the same day. I met her mother and I approved both of my girls went into their backyard. Later, I was told by my younger daughter that when the girl's teenage brothers and an older sister returned, the teenage brothers hold them and kissed them a number of times. Personally, I considered it was inappropriate and they won't be going any more.

    It is a good point to start working on her skills in taking care of her personal needs.
  5. punkin

    punkin <font color=purple>Went through pain just to look

    Nov 28, 2001
    God no!

    I am still traumatized from my first sleep away camp experience at age eight. My older DD did not go until she was 11. My DD7 wanted to go last year (yes, some camps will take them that young) but I refused. I sent her to my sister's (cousin same age) and she went to day camp there.

    Why is it so important to send her away so young. I think a good day camp is a much better idea.
  6. KarenAylwood

    KarenAylwood <font color=red>It wouldn't be the holidays withou

    Apr 5, 2005
    I think it all depends on the child. Some are more independent at that age than others. You know your DD better than we do- you could probably tell whether or not she could handle it. If the camp is taking 7 year olds, then I guess that means there are enough out there that are ok at that age.

    I went to an AMAZING overnight camp- girls came from all over the world to go there (and counselors as well!) and they started taking campers at 9- this was because there was less supervision- you were allowed to make your own decisions as to what you wanted to do and when. The camp itself was isolated enough and had enough supervision that campers could walk around by themselves with no problem. I started going when I was 12 but still wish I had started when I was 9 like many of my friends did.

    I think I started going to Girlscout sleepaway camp when I was 7 or so- there was much more supervision and we were brought from place to place- no walking around alone. I hated it more than anything but I think that's because I was more independent at that age.

    How long are the sessions? Are we talking a week or 8 weeks?

    Depending on the child, no- it's not too young. Although I had bunkies when I was 12 that could barely handle sleepover camp (mind you it was for 4 or 8 week sessions) so again- it all depends! :)
  7. Cheshire Figment

    Cheshire Figment <font color=red><marquee behavior=alternate>Friend

    Jan 12, 2001
    My birthday is in late July. My parents first sent me to sleep away camp the summer I turned six. The first two years I was at the same camp as my 3.5 year older sister. However, The third year (7 turning 8) I was at an all-boys camp. That, and the next eleven years I was either a camper or staff for eight weeks every summer.

    It helped a lot to my being independent.
  8. plummer925

    plummer925 DIS Veteran

    Jun 16, 2002
    I am also another adult still traumatized about my first sleep camp!

    I went when I was 7 - my 8th birthday was the following week. The minimum age was 8, but because my b-day was so close, the camp "let me in" - I was homesick instantly and they wouldn't call my parents - I was literally throwing up. They ended up moving me to another cabin of older kids because one of the girls was my neighbor and they thought it would make it better.

    I can't even go by the camp now without getting sick to my stomach (and I'm 31 now!). My DH and I drove to it one year (about 8 years ago) just to "see it" and I couldn't go down the drive - I had literal panic attacks.

    I ended up going to camp again when I was 12, and it was much better (a different camp!).

    I just wouldn't send a 7 or 8 year old to camp - they are still babies and shouldn't be away from home that long...

    I agree with other posters - how about a day camp - maybe one that has a one night sleepover at the end.

    Has your child ever slept over at a friends house? If so - how many nights in a row? If they haven't been away from you for 7 nights in a row (not at a grandparents house, or other close relatives) then there really is no way to know how they'd handle it.

    I'd hate for your little one to be scarred for life, like some of us here....

    Good luck with your decision.
  9. TallyLassie

    TallyLassie Are we there yet?

    Sep 10, 2004
    My daughter went to a one night Girl Scout camp a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. During the summer our local Girl Scouts offer shorter camps during the summer for first time campers, so she is going to one Sunday - Tuesday. She is able to pick a cabin buddy, so she will be with someone she knows.

    Non-Girl Scouts can attend for an additional $10.
  10. daisyduck123

    daisyduck123 <font color=green>I just love those parmesan mashe

    Aug 18, 2005
    I think it's too young but then...I've never sent any either of my kids off to camp. We enjoy our summers together...going to the pool everyday, relaxing at home, playing with neighborhood friends.

    I guess one week at camp is ok for kids. One previous poster mentioned 8 weeks....I've just never understood why some people (no, not the op) ship their kids off to camp for a whole 8 weeks in the summer. I can't imagine not spending that time with my kids, doing fun, family activities.
  11. Melissa

    Melissa Mouseketeer

    Aug 21, 1999
    It depends on the kid. I could not have gone to sleep away camp at 10 let alone 7, but my dd did last year at the same age as yours, 7 and going into 3rd grade. She wanted to do it and I discussed with her and had since
    forever, the whole inappropriate touch thing and what to do if she really needed out of a situation. She went with her best friend and it was a camp that the friends older brother and sister had been to many times so I was comfortable with it. I say if your dd wants to and you are comfortable with the camp's reputation go for it. Even though it was a good experience, my dd isn't going back this year, she is a very picky eater and she doesn't want to deal with a week of bread, milk and cereal. While I was a wreak the first half of the week last year I finally got to enjoy it a little. I am kind of bummed she doean't want to do it again.
  12. fac

    fac DIS Veteran

    Jun 6, 2004
    The camp will be for one week. As both of us work, she will be in day camps for the balance of the summer. DD had always been in day care, therefore I never consider the possibility of her being homesick. I checked with her again just now, she told me she will be fine. She only slept away from home once, it was organized by the after care she attended and she had a great time. One reason, I didn't send her last year was that she would be the youngest in her age group. At least, this year, she will be in the middle of the age group.

    The following is a reason I always like her to try overnight camp. I thought it will be easier for her to adjust and make friends at 7 rather than at 12.

    Incidentally, she is taking a shower now and I told her she should learn to adjust the water temperature if she wants to go to the camp. I ended up adjusting it for her.
  13. plummer925

    plummer925 DIS Veteran

    Jun 16, 2002
    Just for the record, when I went (i posted earlier about how miserable it was at age 7/8), I CONVINCED my mother that I would be fine. I wasn't fine. A 7 year old doesn't know if they'll be fine.

    A week is a LONG time for one that young to be away from home. She may be able to handle it. If you definitely want her going, you may want to "build her up" - have her stay a few nights with a friend - make sure it's someone who she's not *real* close to the parents but you are so the parents can report to you ALL behaviors.

    If she's going to go, I'd also see if you can convince the parents of her best friend to let the best friend go too (maybe you even pay for it if parents can't afford to!) - it's going to be easier for her to have someone there she knows already (Just be sure to tell the camp you want them in the same cabin - a lot of camps seperate friends).

    Also, try to remember that the decision is yours and your husbands, not your daughters. If you are feeling apprehenisve about it, there may be a reason...I'd talk to your DH a bit more about it...

    And I personally believe that 7 and 8 are too young to be independent - that age is still VERY young...babies really...

    But only YOU can decide....and good luck with that decision!!
  14. vhoffman

    vhoffman DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2003
    Frankly, I wouldn't send a child to sleep away camp until junior high school age (about 12) Any younger and they're just too vunerable. Also, don't forget, a lot can happen behind your back. Camp personnel can get mean, in ways that they know they can get away with. A child of 7 or 8 doesn't know what to expect, what they have to put up with and how to defend themselves. Don't buy the sale of family night, once the kid is alone with the camp personnel its another story. Personally, I always enjoy my vacations with my kids and am quite sad to see the breaks end. I enjoy their company, I know I won't always have it. Enjoy them while you can!
  15. swillis

    swillis "Make your next dog a Blue Dog!"

    Jan 27, 2006
    I think it depends on the kids. I sent my son to football camp (overnight) last year (he was 9) I would not have considered doing that with him at 7 or 8 years old. He was just too attached, and not ready to leave me for that long.

    My daughter on the other hand has been going to sleep away camp since she was 8, and has loved every minute of her time away. She has always been a free spirit, and independent. Even in her early years at daycare (age 2 1/2) she never cared much at all that I would leave.

    This year they are going to camp for 2 weeks (overnight) and my son will do another overnight football camp. They can't wait.

    You know your daughter best, I would think that you wouldn't be considering it if she was the type of kid who doesn't do well in new situations, or making friends.
  16. englishteacha

    englishteacha Have courage and be kind.

    Apr 2, 2006
    The camp where I volunteer has a half week program for younger campers...does the camp you're considering have an option like this? I went for my first week to overnight camp the summer after 7th grade. (and I've been every summer since...I'm a counselor, now!) After my first week of overnight camp, I was sad that my parents didn't let me go earlier, because I made lots of wonderful friends and many kids had gone to camp together for 3 or 4 years before I went. However, I used to get homesick at an unfamiliar house at sleepovers when I was younger than that. I think my parents worried that I'd be unhappy and wouldn't want to go back if they sent me when I was younger than that.

    I think only you can decide if it's right for your daughter. I personally think it's a little young, but if she's fairly independent and enjoys being with other kids (remember, she'll be in a social situation all the time, except for when she's sleeping), then perhaps it is the right time.
  17. Nolcrest

    Nolcrest DIS Veteran

    Mar 1, 2000
    All this camp talk makes me want to watch The Parent Trap! :sunny:
  18. chipscinderelly

    chipscinderelly <font color=3399cc>Victim of a drive-by tag attack

    Aug 11, 2000
    I went to summer camp at the age of 8 as did my sister and many many childhood friends. We all LOVED it and I cherish the memories of camp each summer. It was a truly enriching experience and I hope my children can have it as well.

    Tips that helped us adjust:
    Mom sent mail to us that arrived every day - she mailed the first letters before we left home even though we were only 50 miles away.

    We were familiar with the camp as our mom did volunteer work during the off season to get camp ready so we knew where things were

    Mom went there as a child and we'd heard all the wonderful stories.

    It was a church based camp - I can't say enough about how much fun it was!
  19. calie_j

    calie_j DIS Veteran

    Jan 3, 2005
    I'm sending DD to overnight camp this summer, she's 8 1/2 going into 3rd grade. Last yr she did the day camp since I didn't feel she was ready (still working with her on taking her own shower and caring for her hair). This is a Mon-Fri camp at her gymnastics studio so it's with the same coaches & friends she sees twice a week, I don't think I'd be comfortable with it if she didn't have friends and I didn't know the adults but she is my youngest and the baby of the family. She's also done 3 slumber parties this spring with friends at school and has never had to call home.

    I did send my boys to summer camp at a place on a lake where they didn't know anyone but they both went the same week so they knew each other. I think the minimum age for that was going into 2nd or 3rd grade which is the same age range.

    You're a parent so you will worry but you also know your DD and if she's ready for this.

  20. Julia M

    Julia M DIS Veteran<br><font color =red>not clever, not wi

    Jun 10, 2000
    My dd went away for a weekend camp at 7 (she was almost 8). She was on a college campus, so she shared a room with another girl (also 7). The camp was run by her baton director, and she knew a few of the other girls, as well as her roommate. They had meals in the dining hall, and while there were adults on her floor, they weren't in her room. She had a great time. In retrospect, however, I can't believe I let her do it!!! She could have gone as a day camper, but didn't want to. She's almost 12, and still talks about that camp, and how much fun she had.

    On the other hand, her older brother didn't go away until he was 11 1/2, at science camp. I offered many opportunities....he just wasn't interested. He still hasn't gone away since then, either.

    I guess what I'm saying is...you know her best. My only question would be.....do you want her to go because you think it would be good for her, or because she really wants to go. If it's because you think it would be good for her, that's probbaly not a good reason, especially at her age.

    Good Luck

  21. 3DisneyNUTS

    3DisneyNUTS <font color=green>can't think of anything witty!<b

    Apr 5, 2004
    I think it is way too young. I went to camp at 9 amd I had my twin sister with me. It is way too much being away from home that long. I say wait.

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