Sleep-away camp is a rite of passage for millions of kids in the summer. Unfortunately, sleep all too often goes by the wayside amongst the swimming and s’mores. With these tips, you can help preserve your child’s sleep routine and ensure they get better rest at summer camp.
Confirming Your Child Is Ready for Camp
Before you can send your kid off to camp, you should make sure that they are ready for whatever is going to happen. Campers will have counselors there to help them as needed. In general, children should be able to:
- Dress and undress
- Brush teeth and hair
- Use the toilet without assistance
- Convey their needs or concerns specifically
- Go to sleep on their own
There is no minimum age at which a kid should be ready to go to a sleep-away camp for an extended period of time. Some children are prepared at age 5-6, while others may be closer to 10 before they can handle their own affairs.
Finding a Camp With a Good Sleep Schedule
You know that there will probably be some late nights at the camp, with or without the counselors’ knowledge. In order to minimize the damage from sleep deprivation, you should focus on camps that at least pay minimum attention to an appropriate sleep schedule for children. Kids ages 6-12 need 9-12 hours a night, on the higher side for younger school-age children. Ask to see the schedule, and make sure that they are starting lights out at a reasonable time. If your kid needs a lot of sleep, you might opt for a camp with a shorter duration to avoid the cumulative effects of too little sleep.
Ensuring Adequate Sleep Routines
Depending on the camp and the ages of the participants, there may be a lot of noise and mayhem happening around bedtime. It can be difficult for kids to fall asleep if they are not accustomed to sharing a crowded space with several other children. Kids who are tired may act up, even if they are expending a lot of energy during the day. As much as you can, try to help your child stick to a similar bedtime routine before sleep. If you have a habit of reading a story before bed, encourage your child to bring a book and a small, unobtrusive flashlight to read as part of the routine. Ask the camp for tips on helping a child who is afraid of the dark to settle down for rest. Allow your kid to bring a stuffed animal or blanket, but try to select something that is not the #1 favorite, in case it gets lost.
How to Promote Sleep at Summer Camp
A lot of sleep difficulties at camp relate to sleeping in a different environment. Do what you can to ensure your child’s comfort. Confirm that they can open and close camping bags without needing help. If they are sleeping in tents instead of cabins with bunks, consider sending a camping mattress to provide a little extra padding. Pack an extra blanket if it gets too cold, but also offer some options to undo layers if it is hotter. You might give them earplugs to wear to block out some of the noise, but you should confirm that they will be able to hear the counselor waking them up.
Sleeping at summer camp may sound like an oxymoron, but it is highly necessary. This advice helps you to select a camp and prepare your child for good sleep in the middle of their great adventure.