North Star Camp for Boys

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Getting Ready for Camp, Some Tips to Help you Prepare

Getting ready for the summer and sending your son to camp can be a cumbersome process. This will be my 29th summer at North Star and along with the many years that Andy, Vickie, Leb and Sue have spent at camp, we've learned a few things about what works...and what doesn't. Below are some tips and practical advice to help you prepare for the summer. Take a few minutes to read over these pointers. We believe that they'll help you through the process of getting ready for the summer and will set your son up for success at camp!

Take things one step at a time
When you look at all the forms, packing, labeling and just the overall idea of sending your son to camp, it can get overwhelming. There is a lot to do ahead of the summer, but if you jump in and just take things one step at a time, you’ll see that pretty quickly you start knocking things off the list.

Shop smart
We’re surrounded by great camping stores that sell fantastic gear that could last your son many years. Unfortunately, by next summer the odds that your camper will be wearing the same size hiking boots or fleece jacket are pretty low. Camp can be tough on equipment and things can get lost. While high end stores are fun, there are places like REI and, along with many other traditional stores that are great for buying camp gear. One place not to skimp is on your son’s sleeping bag. A synthetic sleeping bag that DOES NOT have a cotton lining could last your son for many years.
  • Bonus tip: Avoid the metal cook kits with multiple plates and pans. Pieces tend to fall apart. A plastic plate, cup and utensil set is ideal. Campmor sells this set: You can also buy these items individually at camping or sporting goods stores. Add a mesh bag to store these in.
Homesick Happens
Every parent wants their son to have the perfect camp experience. A top worry is that their son will be homesick. The fact is that campers, regardless of their age, may get homesick. This isn’t a bad thing. What is important is to, first off, let your son that he may miss home, family and their pets. Its important to tell them what they may feel as opposed to just using the word "homesick". Let them know that this is perfectly normal and if it does happen, there are lots of staff and other campers there to help them out. All they have to do is talk to them about it. Homesickness should be seen by parents as an opportunity. Once kids plow through it, they learn to be stronger and more self-reliant.
Don’t promise to “pick him up” if things aren’t perfect
Camp is fun, and it’s much more than that. Campers make friends, learn skills and grow. There are challenges that come at camp, but what’s great is that they are in a safe setting with plenty of support! Do not promise your son that you’ll pick him up if he’s homesick, unhappy or if things aren’t working out! You’ll be left with two choices if he calls you on this. One is to pick him up and take away a great learning opportunity. The other is to go back on your promise and risk damaging the trust that he has for you. Instead, let your son know that you’re confident that when these challenges arise, that he’ll do great.
  •  Bonus Tip: Don’t burden your son with your emotions. Your son will miss you and you’ll certainly miss him. Let him know that. Please don’t overshare your worries and anxieties. This will likely lead to increased anxieties of his own that could lead to increased homesickness and challenges for him at camp.
Duffles, not trunks
Foot lockers are bulky and tough to store. Duffles withstand travel much better and can pack away easily. If you’re buying new, go for duffle bags!

Print and pack labels for letters
In an electronic age, campers aren’t used to sending out letters. We’ve seen lots of interesting attempts by campers to address envelopes in rather creative handwriting. Ahead of the summer, make labels for the different people that you want your son writing and then give him a short lesson on how to make sure the letter gets from point A to point B.

Be honest on camp forms
Being up front and open on medical and personality forms will ensure that we can provide the best summer possible for your son. All campers come to camp with a clean slate, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t help them to make us aware of issues that he’s been dealing with. We guarantee that this information will be shared only with those that need to know it. If you haven’t yet watched the Bob Ditter video on the importance of camp forms, we recommend you to: 

Sharpies are your friend!
Label everything. You can either write it in or order labels from Mabel’s Labels or Stuck on You.

Camp rules have a reason 
Like families, camp has rules that campers and staff need to abide by. These are detailed in the main spring info pack. From food in camp to cell phones, there are reasons we’ve put these rules into place. If you would like to better understand the reasons for these rules, don’t hesitate to contact us. We ask you to help set your son up for success at camp by ensuring that he’s following camp policies.

Call us, email us, let us know how we can help.
We know that preparing for camp can be a cumbersome process. If you have any questions about anything, do not hesitate to call or email us at any time. Whether you need advice on camp gear or have a question about a camp form, we’re here to help.  We can be reached by phone at 715-462-3254 or via email at