School camps are an important part of every child’s education.
Sometimes they are the highlight of the whole year for children. In addition to wonderful memories, children learn invaluable skills and life lessons from attending school camps. The first time your child attends a school camp can be a stressful experience both for your child and for you!
It’s perfectly natural for parents to have concerns and to miss children (unless you have two others at home and welcome the extra peace and quiet!) or worry about them.
Worried parents or children shouldn’t spoil this potentially wonderful experience for children.
Parents can relax and trust that schools are extremely vigilant and do everything possible to ensure the safety and happiness of every child. Teachers are almost always aware of which children can be the worriers and will keep an extra eye on them. (Don’t be surprised if your little worrier returns bursting with confidence after discovering her or his inner warrior.)
If you are concerned that teachers may not realise how anxious your child is about the approaching school camp, definitely contact the school and talk this over. But it is essential that your child does attend the primary school camp.
Don’t allow a child to miss a school camp during primary school!
This will make life more difficult in the future for both them and you –
- By not attending the school camp, a child learns that it’s better to take the easy way out. This prevents children from facing future difficult situations and overcoming their fears. In essence it prevents them from developing important resilience.
- By not attending the school camp, children miss out on opportunities to learn all of the following…
- experiences that will build on the curriculum and deepen knowledge
- opportunities to develop greater self-esteem
(Many activities at camps are fun adventure experiences where all children can taste success. Learning, in a controlled environment to surf, ride a horse or handle a canoe builds children’s self-confidence and this can flow over to all aspects of life and even improve children’s results at school.)
- opportunities to deepen friendships and make new friends. This is probably one of the most important advantages for children.
Looking at camps through a positive lens, there are many wonderful things children gain.
How can parents help children who are fearful and refuse to attend the school camp?
Contact the school immediately so that teachers have time to subtly reassure worried children.
Parents should also reassure children without trivialising their fears. “I’m sure the other children are a bit nervous too. But the camp will be so much fun. Once you get there, you will love it. Won’t it be exciting to learn how to…”
Unlock the unknown
Make a time for you and your child to meet with the teacher so that information such as: where the camp is sited (hopefully show your child the brochure); the sleeping arrangements; the activities; if a special arrangement for contact can be organised; the transport arrangements. Hopefully the teacher will understand your child’s anxiety and also offer them to travel beside them and have a sleeping area nearby too.
Get some information about some of the most exciting activities children will be doing at the camp. Telling children that they will be able to ride a horse or wind surf can change their perception about the camp.
Be firm. This is not the time to give in and let your child miss the camp. The tears often end once children are at the school gates, boarding the bus and on their way to that first camp. Remember that camps are a feature of education even at the secondary school level and students are expected to attend.
Primary school is the time to help children get over their hesitations and front up like the other children. By not attending, a child will also not have those collective memories and wonderful experiences all of the other children will be excitedly talking about back at school.