Preparing for a Week of Camp

Attending summer camp is not only an awesome experience for the camper, it involves and impacts the whole family. That’s why the summer camp week can hold a variety of different emotions for everyone, and why preparing for that week is so important. 

The anticipation of summer camp can hold excitement. It is a new experience filled with new friends, fun activities, exciting games, and a whole list of things to learn. It can also hold a lot of nerves. There can be a lot of unknowns about a week away and many new, sometimes challenging, components as well. 

Here are a few tips for campers and their families to help prepare everyone for a week at camp. 

  • Pack well and pack together.  The preparation for camp is exciting! Take a look at the packing list and think through it together. Gather the supplies you have and maybe make a shopping trip to pick up anything new needed. Think about not only the things you need to bring like gym shoes, a sleeping bag, and clothes, but the things you might want like a stuffie, pictures of home, and favorite snacks. Pack everything together so that campers can know exactly what they have for the week and how to use it. This will also help them pack up everything at the end of the week without your help.   
  • Practice camp. Practice makes some of the unknowns of camp less scary. Do a trial sleep over at a trusted friend or family member’s house. Or maybe make a tent in the living room. Instead of going right to bed at night, practice some flash light time in the dark with a journal or book. Going through the motions of some aspects of camp can help prepare campers for when they do it for real in the summer. 
  • Plan for anticipated challenges. Homesickness can and will happen to all kinds of campers. Thinking through what that might feel like and giving campers tools to tackle those feelings ahead of time will not eliminate those feelings but can help them tackle them more independently. Pack letter writing supplies or a journal for campers to document the days throughout the week so they can share those moments with you when you pick them up. Include comfort items like favorite snacks or a special item from home that they can have. Pack pictures of family or favorite places at home for them to look at and also share with their cabinmates. Talk through the resources they do have to stay in touch like writing an e-scan that will be sent to you in the week and plan to send your camper an email back as well. 
    • Please note that cell phones and electronic devices are not allowed at camp even for parent/family communications. 
  • Visit camp ahead of summer. There are a lot of different ways you and your camper can check out camp grounds before the Sunday of check-in. You can sign up for a scheduled camp tour or contact us about arranging a private tour to see the place. You can also attend events and retreats that are all listed on our website.  

We know that sometimes a week at camp can also be challenging for the families. Campers will miss you and you’ll miss your campers. It is exciting to send them out to try something new but also nerve wracking to see how they might embrace every aspect. 

Often the beginning of the week is harder than the end, but there is such beautiful growth that happens. Camp is a place for everyone to experience first steps. Whether this is your campers first week away from home or they have been a regular for years, there will be something new for them here.  It is our hope that every moment, every first step, is one of safety and joy for the whole family! 

A few notes on special camper accommodations for a week. 

In order to give your child the most successful week at camp possible, any special accommodations must be requested prior to your child’s arrival at camp. The Covenant Harbor team can, with limits, provide additional staff support to specific campers in order to set them up for success. This is available on a first-come, first-served basis. In all cases involving special accommodation, please contact Covenant Harbor as early as possible (and at least three weeks in advance of your child’s anticipated arrival at camp) so that the Covenant Harbor team may gain a complete understanding of your child’s unique circumstances, and with your input, assess if your child’s needs can be met. The Covenant Harbor office number is (262) 248-3600.

Parents must inform Covenant Harbor of any medical, physical or behavioral conditions that may require special or beyond usual assistance from staff. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Any condition for which the camper receives special assistance from an aid at school, such as:
    1. ADHD
    2. Autism
    3. Any need for a companion/comfort animal
    4. Diagnosed intellectual disability
  • Any physical limitations for which special accommodations are required.
  • Any pre-existing medical issues that require special observation or intervention.
  • Any behavioral or social issues that require special interventions or accommodation.
    1. Any noteworthy behavioral challenges that may affect cabin dynamics or social interactions with others.
    2. Any “triggers” for “behavioral issues” (e.g. PTSD, etc.) including positive ways to help them regulate themselves.

Be aware that Covenant Harbor has the following parameters for summer campers:

  • Covenant Harbor cannot accommodate campers that require a one-on-one buddy/supervision all of the time while at camp.
  • Child should be able to follow directions and schedule without displaying aggressive behaviors.
  • Child cannot be verbally or physically abusive toward other children.
  • Child must be able to be redirected without the use of restraint.
  • Child must be able to receive medicine and food orally or by injection (e.g. no G-Tubes).
  • If a child has a history of seizures, they must be controlled (inquire with camp Health Director to determine if Covenant Harbor can serve the camper).
  • Child needs to be able to self-ambulate around the property (use of an assistive device such as a wheel chair is okay; however, Covenant Harbor has significant hills and not all cabins are ADA accessible).
  • Child must not be a flight risk.
  • Occasionally, bedwetting happens with campers. This can be managed. However, all campers are required to be able to independently use the bathroom facilities.

If you have any questions about the above guidelines or if you would like to discuss whether your child is ready for camp, please call Covenant Harbor at (262) 248-3600 and ask to speak with the Program Director, Emma Mueller.