Is my child too young for attending an experiential summer camp?
Anxiety and subsequent questions.
Will he be fine? But I have never sent her alone? Oh, and will he or she eat well ? He barely takes his food on time and is such a fussy eater. And the most important one – is he too young for it?
Well, well, well! Completely understandable. As parents, it is second nature for us to worry about the common and most basic requirements of our children. Taking care of their own food, clothing and being able to adapt to the shelter being the most common ones. And rightly so. As we have always wanted and provided the best for them.
So how do we know whether or not they will manage or are ready for a camp yet?
Very simple – by sending them on one 🙂
Having said that let me share some behaviour patterns that I have observed of children on camp. And specifically observed those children whose parents have been on borderline paranoia about their children for various reasons. They have told me stories about their messy rooms, their inability to remember to pack all their belongings, their need to be fussed about during meal times as they do not eat so at home. .. and many more such things . Change in scenario and moving them outside their comfort zone. Enter the campsite. These very same children have been able to keep their rooms clean ( it adds to the fact that there is a keep-room – clean competition) have made sure they have not only packed their own belongings but also helped their friends do so, have been mindful of eating what is served to them etc. I do not deny that the quantity of what they are eating maybe a little less. But my take on that has always been – that eating less has never really harmed anyone. Of course, ensuring that they eat enough so that they are able to cope with the energy required for the activities has always been a priority for us So why do they behave differently on camp then?
This is largely due to two reasons.
One, the absence of the parent makes them take charge of themselves. They are made to feel responsible for all their actions which are followed by appropriate consequences. And secondly, they are observing all the other children doing the same. This gives them a sense of wanting to be like the others. When they see that their peers are keeping their rooms neat, they are inspired to do the same too. And likewise for the food as well.
So, in a nutshell – the appropriate age for the child to start camping is when they are ready to explore and stretch their boundaries, move out of their comfort zones and use experiences to grow. The question is are you ready to let them go! But if I was to give you a chronological age – I would suggest 8 – 9 years of age.
Don’t worry about the child being ready – as a parent get ready to let them explore, camp and grow.