Tips to Help Your First Time Camper

With only a few weeks to go before sleepaway camp season begins, it is only natural that there is a healthy amount of anxiety and nervousness for both parents and children who will be apart for the first extended period of time.  This summer promises to be filled with exciting experiences, newfound independence, and friendships that last forever.

Here are a few tips to help prepare your camper for his/her first step on a lifelong journey!

1.     There are some great camp movies to watch with your children before they go away.  My favorite to watch with the kids is Friday the 13th Part 2.  It’s a fun tale of adolescent hyjinx at Camp Crystal Lake where some of the counselors and campers meet a hockey-loving, swordsman named “Jason”.  It’s a great peek into everyday life at camp.  Let your child know that odds are he’ll meet plenty of great kids named “Jason” in just a few short weeks. 

2.    Another way to ease your child’s trepidation is to let him/her know that you’re always just a phone call away but for the seven or so weeks he’ll be at camp, you’ll be in Europe and on safari in Africa so make sure his counselors understand the time zone difference and also that you’ll be unreachable or drunk during most of your vacation.  Also, roaming charges in foreign countries, especially in Africa, can be very expensive so it’s probably best just to write.

3.    Since you’ll probably be away on visiting day, let your little guy know that his/her grandparents may be there to see him but, more likely, a couple of temps and/or interns from daddy’s office will come up that day to play ball, eat sandwiches, meet your counselors and give you big hugs.  It’s preferable to send up a male and female but if you have to send up two of the same gender, let your child’s bunkmates know that they were legally married in Colorado or New Hampshire. 

4.     Sports are a huge part of his/her time at camp.  It’s important to make sure that you send your child with the best gear money can buy even if your child has never played a sport in his/her life.  Other children immediately will respect your kid as he picks daisies in his Lionel Messi uniform wearing $225 soccer cleats.  Nothing says “pick me first” like a kid in flourescent LeBron HyperDunks, Nike Elite socks, and an authentic Kevin Durant uniform.  He’ll be the most popular kid in the bunk!

5.    If your son is a bit undersized and is worried about some of the kids giving him a hard time a good idea is to send him up with a small stash of anabolic steroids.  Make sure to just pack the oral form since your child probably isn’t equipped to stick in a needle in his buttocks yet and syringes may be a red flag if found during bunk inspection.  It will almost certainly be a huge point deduction to his team during Color War.  If your 8 year-old comes home with yellow eyes, a back full of acne, and a full beard, then you know he “took care of business” on his own because nobody likes a snitch.  Plus, anabolics and all drugs are healthy if taken in moderation.

6.    If your new camper is having a tough time making friends, a great idea is to have him become a hero to his fellow campers.  The easiest way to do this is to have him run back to his bunk alone during an activity then take a 24 inch  20 lb sledgehammer to the bunk sink so water shoots all over the place.  He can run to tell the proper camp personnel about the “leak” and he’ll be a hero to one and all.  This scenario always works in every Curious George book so it should translate nicely to a summer camp setting.

7.    Another way for your camper to endear himself to his fellow bunkmates is to make sure his personal area is meticulously clean.  It’s not a horrible idea to send him to camp with a dustbuster or a small shop vac to ensure that his area is always spotless.  Also, you’ll want him to seal off his personal space with police tape so that none of the dirtier campers mess with his shit.

8.    If your camper gets a bit homesick, summer is a great time to experiment with mood-altering prescription drugs, especially a for a child’s first experience away from home.  Your child’s violent mood swings will be closely monitored under the watchful eyes of several hormonally super-charged 18 and 19 year-old counselors who are experts in behavioral sciences.   It’s a good idea to wean your child off the drug before he gets home then follow up with his counselor to see how he/she behaved.

9.    If your child has a tough time “going” in public, especially “doing a number 2”, tell him  to try to hold it in as long as possible so he/she won’t take away valuable time on the toilet from other campers.  No one likes a kid who hogs up the bathroom.  When camp is over, it’s advisable to feed your child some “special chocolate and milk” then quickly take him to the public restroom at the mall or office building where there are industrial-strength toilets. 

10.  If you have a son, it’s a good idea to send your new camper up with some adult magazines to share with the counselors.  Try to get him the real hard-core smut magazines that are sold as a three-pack at 7-Eleven or specialty magazines like Juggs or Barely Legal.  Counselors, especially Camp America staff, love those periodicals for the classy pictorials and top-notch journalism while they’re on OD.  Your son will instantly become the favorite of all the bunk staff.

11. Lastly, give your camper the assurance that when camp is over, there’s a good possibility that you’ll be there to pick him up from the bus if, of course, your plans with your college buddies fall through.  If you don’t show up, you’ll either send someone for him or have him call a local car service and you’ll see him when he gets home.

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