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The Moment of Truth: Surviving Summer Camp Drop-Off

By Aby Ryan

Summer is coming, and your family is ready. Plans are made, summer camps are booked, school is winding down. But are you ready for summer camp drop-off?

You know camp builds confidence, independence and resilience in our kids, but how do you overcome the early tears and fears you both might experience? Experts call it separation anxiety, and you can help your kids get past it.


Prepare & Plan Together

Working with your kids to get ready for camp is a great way to ease anxiety. Give your kids ownership over supply checklists. Shop together for anything you need, including snacks and lunch. Avoid last-minute stress by completing medical forms and permission slips early.


Acknowledge Fears

If your child shares fears about the first day of camp, acknowledge them and take them seriously. Don’t feed into them by adding more, but don’t dismiss them too easily, either. Express confidence that your child can overcome those fears, and let them know that camp staff are excited to help them have fun.


Discuss Specific Activities

Review camp schedules together and add the most exciting activities to your family calendar. Talk about camp activities with open-ended questions. Rather than ask if your child is nervous, simply ask how they are feeling. Ask what they are most looking forward to, and what they can do to enjoy the experience.


Rehearse the Drop-Off Experience with Other Events

Sometimes the simplest preparation is the best. You can rehearse summer camp drop-off by altering your school day routine a little bit. You can also practice by planning day trips or slumber parties with close friends as summer approaches.


Drop-off: Don’t Linger

It’s the first day of camp, and your family is really ready.  You’ve planned it, you’ve discussed it, and you’ve practiced it. Arrive on time, share your excitement with your kids, tell them you love them, offer a quick hug, and let them go.


Camp staff also prepare for this moment, and they’ll be ready to get your kids connected with new friends and engaging activities right away. So let them. And then head out to your day knowing you all will have a great time.


Before you know it, you’ve survived summer camp drop off and all that’s left will be excitement!