Away from Home for the First Time (Giveaway)

Away from Home for the First Time

This giveaway is no longer accepting entries. Congratulations to our winner Amanda

Sending your child off to summer camp can often be a milestone in and of itself for parents.  You have raised a child who can now go into the world without your direct supervision and enjoy and explore her world…under the direct supervision of other trustworthy adults.

While the parent may need his or her own preparation for this milestone, let us focus here on how to prepare children for their own milestone.

  1. Make sure you have evaluated your child’s skill, interests and development so he or she can fit in well in a specific camp environment.
  2. Actively involve your child in choosing a camp if he or she has not initiated the process on their own already.
  3. Work with your physician and her office to get a pre-camp health evaluation. The earlier this is thought of, the less cumbersome the process.
  4. Begin to decrease the potential of significant homesickness.  Visit the camp, if possible, or spend time browsing the website.  Consider arranging a buddy to go with your child if it is the first time and the camp allows for such a situation.  Arrange for sleepovers and overnights at grandparents’ homes.  Still, remember homesickness can often be inevitable and developmentally appropriate.  So, if you are called to come in and swoop up your child-don’t take it personally.
  5. PLAN.  Pack several weeks ahead and review the checklist together with your child. If possible, send a letter to your child so it arrives when he arrives at the camp.
  6. Talk to your child about potential fears and concerns (without introduction of your own fears).
  7. Be realistic and try not to hype it up too much – your child is likely very excited and hyped up already.

Critically, make sure the camp itself is ready for your child.  For instance, it should follow very specific safety and nutritional standards.  It should have an emergency plan for infectious outbreaks and encourage good hygiene practice among campers.  Who knows- your child may come back with hygiene principles that you have tried for years to instill in her.  Camps also need to follow other specific guidelines including that of physical activity.  Look to resources including American Camp Association and for more guidelines.

Finally, share in your child’s excitement and recognize this milestone together.

Smiling Sun

Enter this week’s giveaway

Leave a comment on this post answering this question: When was the first time you spent the night away from home?
Prize: 1 $10 Target gift card
Rules: Giveaway closes on Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 11pm CST. Open to Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois residents only. One entry per email address is permitted. The winner will be selected using and announced on the following Monday as an update to this post. Winner will be notified via email and asked to provide a mailing address to receive the prize; if the winner does not respond within 7 days, the winner forfeits the prize and another winner will be selected. Subscribe to the blog and you’ll get new posts delivered to your inbox as soon as they’re posted.


  • I went to surf camp in 3rd grade. I have no memory of actually surfing but have a vivd memory of making sand candles and then having them washed away as the tide came in.

  • We watched movies in bed, which could not be done at home. FUN!

  • I really enjoyed this article actually my kids are not quite old enough yet for camp, but there were some good tips in here that I will follow when they are! Thanks

  • I went to science camp in 6th grade. I remember all of the cool experiments we conducted in the national forest. I recall feeling a few butterflies before going but once I got there I fell in love with the camp experience.

  • The first time I went away to camp was in 6th grade. Our class went to Catalina Island in California for a 2-day camping trip. I was so excited because we got to sleep in cabins and I had a new sleeping bag. I still think of that trip when I think of summer camps!

  • This is the first year that I am sending my 13 year old daughter to camp. I’m very nervous, she will be fine…. ME, maybe not! 🙂 I appreciated this article!

  • Probably when I was about 8, sleeping at a friends house. And I will admit that I woke up in the middle of the night terrified and had to go home. 🙂

  • My first night away from home was a aleepover at a friend’s house.

  • My first time at camp was in 6th grade. We lived in the woods, had terrible hygiene principles, and had a blast. I loved it so much, I went on to work at that camp for 9 years!

  • My big sister was staying over night at a friends’ house. They let me come,too. I cried & my parents had to come & get me. My first summer weekend Girl Pioneer camp after 3rd grade I cried also – parents brought me back the next day & the 2nd night I stayed.

  • I remember spending a week at my grandparents house in the summer when I was 9. They live over 300 miles from my parents and I remember being nervous to be away from my mom and dad for so long. Grandma taught me how to make cookies and grandpa took us to the park a lot. It was definitely better than I was expecting for my first time away for so long.

  • probably around 9 years old at my grandmas but I grew up in Ukraine so it was different there.

  • I go to Girl Scout camp and the rooms sometimes creak. It scares me a little. Grandma says all houses creak and if we are really quiet we can hear our house creak. I like Girl Scout camp.

  • I remember going to camp in the 3rd grade for the first time for a whole week. I was really nervous at first but as the days went by, I met lots of friends and had so much fun I didn’t want to come home.

  • I went to summer science camp in 6th grade for the weekend. I don’t remember being homesick, I loved it.

  • I remember my first sleepover at my friends house. We had so much fun, and her mom was going to make us a special breakfast the next morning, and my mom was going to take my brother and I to see santa the next day. I woke up in the middle of the night, everyone was sleeping, and I hurt so bad! I was afraid to wake up my friend, or her mom, and I just cried because I couldn’t sleep since I was in so much pain. As soon as I heard someone, I asked them to call my mom. My mom took me into the doctor, and it turns out I had a double ear infection! I still had fun that night before I felt the ear infection! LOL!

  • My first time that I remember sleeping away from home was in third grade. I slept over at a friend’s house and only lasted until about 10pm when I called my parents to come pick me up 🙂

  • My first overnight away from home was probably a sleepover at my neighbor’s house. She was close enough that I could look out her back door and see my own house.

  • My first overnight at a friends house I was in first grade, which turned out be too young. I ended up calling my mom and going home in the middle of the night. My first camp wasn’t until 4th grade and thankfully my mom was the camp nurse!

  • When I was little for a sleepover!

  • Elizabeth Niblack-Sykes

    I stayed ovenight at a friends house at age 8- I think I was a little homesick, but I stuck it out and had a blast!

  • I went to overnight girl scout camp in 4th grade. I only lasted about 36 hours before my parents came to pick me up. A few years later I gave church camp a try and loved it and went back for several years! I just had to find the right camp for me!

  • I spent the night at my grandparents at a very young age.

  • I remember going to my friends slumber party, I was nervous, but was able to get to sleep and had tons of fun. After that , I remember feeling pretty comfortable with myself and my abilities.