Five Ways to Prepare Your Child for Camp

Are your kids about to zoom off to summer camp but you’re not sure if they’re ready for a week away from home? Well, here are five things you can do to get them geared up and ready to go!

#1 Prepare them for some independence

Attending a week of camp is a huge right of passage for a child and a big step in their independence and growth! I was a camp counselor for many years, married a camp director, and worked training camp staff for years after that. Nonetheless, when our oldest went to camp I was shocked at how hard it was to let him go. We literally live thirty seconds away from the cabin where he stayed. It was still so very difficult and so incredibly good.

Up until that time, I had always been on hand. I talked to other adults for him when he was shy. I dished up the kinds of food he liked. I could tell by that slight weariness in his eyes when he was getting sick. I knew that he liked me to read to him at night and sing a song.

But you know what? Camp counselors can read and sing, too. During that week of camp, I saw something beautiful occur. Our son became part of a group of boys, thundering around with their counselor, totally independent from my hovering, having a total blast. He learned to go with the flow without me there to explain everything and smooth the way. He learned to advocate for himself by asking his counselor for help if he needed a buddy to walk the dark trails with or forgot his toothbrush. My heart ached and swelled with pride simultaneously when his counselor said that he woke with a nightmare and then fell back to sleep as his counselor stood beside his bed holding his hand. My little boy was growing up.

Prepare your child for this adventure by telling them to ask for help, think of strategies if they miss home (write a letter, read a good book at bedtime, snuggle favorite stuffed animal), and assure them that this week will give them vital skills for life and their relationship with God for years to come!

#2 Pack the right clothes

Camp is a place for running through the grassy meadow, pounding up and down the twisty dirt trails, or even playing a game of ga-ga ball immediately after a thunderstorm has left the ga-ga ball court slick with mud. Pack accordingly. We’ve had kids who only pack designer clothes, flip flops instead of tennis shoes, or even high-heeled snow boots with furry accents but no real tread. Prepare your child to enjoy the outdoors with a good pair of tennis shoes or even hiking boots. Sandals are fine, but if they wear them all week their feet will hurt and they might trip on the rough terrain or roll an ankle. Pack clothes that can get dirty. Pack for a wide variety of weather conditions. Here in the Cascade Mountains it can reach freezing temperatures at night even when it is sweltering in the daytime. Shorts and t-shirts, socks and sturdy shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants, a sweatshirt and pajama pants for lounging about, a modest swimsuit, a thick blanket to drape over their shoulders during the campfire, and plenty of clothes to change into. They will get grubby fast and packing a few extra outfits will be perfect for after that impromptu pine needle fight.

Pro Tip: Teach your first-time camper how to make bundles of clothes so that he or she can find an outfit for each day easily. Fold a pair of pants, a shirt, undies, and socks. Stack them on top of each other with the smaller items inside. Roll them up into a clothing burrito and then wrap a strip of masking tape all the way around the bundle. Have bundles for cold days and hot days. Now finding new clothes every day is easy and your camper is more likely to actually put on something fresh!

#3 Pack the right equipment

A flashlight! So many campers forget that it is dark here in the forest. Yes, we have electricity when the generator is on and for a few hours after that as the batteries give us power for a while. But eventually, the power goes out and it is quite dark. A flashlight and extra batteries will help your camper to go back and forth between the mail lodge and their cabin, rummage through their suitcase after the lights go out, or even read a book quietly in their bunk without disturbing the rest of the cabin.

Some camouflage, dark clothing, or even a black cape/gorilla mask for the night games. It sure puts a damper on playing Mission Impossible when you only have a bright white sweatshirt and get captured right away. Do you have a retired soldier in the family? See if they might donate their old camo for your camper’s night game adventure. Head to the thrift store to see what’s been donated or ask grandma to sew a black cape with a hood. At the very least, pack one set of dark clothes including dark shoes and socks. Your camper will smile when they dig through their suitcase and see that they are ready to plunge into the night in disguise.

A sleeping bag and pillow. Yep, sometimes campers forget these important items. Make sure that yours is prepared. For younger campers, a special stuffed animal can make their bunk feel like home. I have loaned out many stuffed animals over the years and of course the camp dog is always available, but a stuffy from home is a special touch.

Toiletries! Yes, they will still need to brush their teeth, run a comb through their hair to remove pieces of bark and lichen, and maybe even wash their faces and hair. Sometimes campers arrive hoping that all of these things are behind them. Our counselors will kindly urge a continuation of basic hygiene, but it sure helps if they have a toothbrush!

A good book. There is very little down time at camp, but we do have one hour of FOB (flat on bunk) in the afternoons and some campers have trouble resting. A good book can also help them settle down at night if they are all revved up after all their adventures and can’t sleep.

A Bible, notebook, and pen. Yes, we have Bibles that your camper can borrow, but it is always nice to have your own and a notebook and pen can make the chapel sessions even more meaningful as your camper jots down things from their week.

#4 Leave some things behind

Does your camper think that they cannot live without their phone, a fine collection of stink bombs, a pair of matching machetes, or their five angry cats? Yeah, they will be fine without those. One of the main benefits of camp is disengaging from the digital world. So, leave that phone behind and bring grandma’s old camera or a single-use disposable camera instead. And the stink bombs, yes, pranking at camp is a fine tradition but all pranks must be cleared by the interns and anything that destroys property weather through a horrible stench, sticky duct tape residue, or a mountain of shaving cream … well, these pranks do not gain approval. If your camper is longing to hone their wilderness skills and learn to use a pocket knife correctly, sign up for our spring break survival camp. But for all other camps, leave those knives at home. Yes, my sons once smuggled a pet chicken into their cabin, but I found her and brought her back home. Please leave your pets behind and enjoy Princess Leia Freyja, the camp dog, while at Camas.

#5 Be ready for different

Camp is not like school, home, or church. Camp is different. That’s one reason we love it! Sometimes campers are alarmed by this. I have fielded many questions from children about camp. “Where are all the video games?” or “Why are there hand motions to the songs?” or “Why are kids pounding their cups on the table, chanting, and racing around the lodge during dinner?” or in the case of my sons, “Why do I have to wear shoes?” Get your camper ready to enjoy something different. They’re going to love it!

Boo Boo aka Kristen is the granddaughter of the camp founders, the daughter of the camp’s first director, and the wife of Scruffy (the current director). She began her career in camp ministry in the dish pit with her best friend at the age of fourteen. They were terrible dishwashers but eventually got the dishes clean after swamping the floor with an inch of water and screaming whenever they had to touch discarded food. Her three sons are now involved in camp, too. The oldest is a counselor, the middle son is cook’s assistant, and her youngest is following in her footsteps with dish pit adventures of his own. Please shoot her a message or call if you have questions about camp or your camper. She has also been known to track them down for you, take reconnaissance photos while hiding behind trees, and post those reassuring pictures on the camp facebook and instagram pages so that you know your camper is alive. She believes that camp is a vital adventure, both for childhood health and joy as well as for our growth as followers of Christ.

Meet the Interns!

Introducing Epona, Dauntless, Bomber, and MiniVan!

We have four amazing interns who have chosen to serve all summer at camp. These guys are the best and your children will have a blast as our Camas Interns lead the way in fun and faith adventures!

Hey, listen! My name is Epona; and, as implied, I love horses and The Legend of Zelda. My youthful appearance belies my age; I might look like I’m twelve or sixteen (take your pick), but I hail from the twentieth century. Camas Meadows Bible Camp has been a part of my life since I was (very) small; my family used to go to a winter retreat there every year, and my older siblings Spike, Rhyme and Splinter were involved in the summer camp ministry long before I was. Because of them, I was instilled with a yearning to be part of that experience myself. I was a camper for four years; and then, the following year, I plunged right into being a counselor.

Since 2013, I have been involved in the summer camp ministry; not counting 2020, this will be my eighth consecutive summer as staff at CMBC. In January 2019, I came to live at camp to work fulltime as an intern, which is the role I currently possess. Counseling at Camas has always been both a tremendous challenge and a great joy, and in that regard, interning is no different.

Being here for such a long time, I have been able to witness God impact many individuals through the ministry of Camas. I have seen several past campers, including my own, grow in their faith and leadership and transition into the role of staff for themselves, which is indescribably encouraging. This is a special place to me, and I am incredibly blessed to continue to serve here in any way I can. I am truly grateful for the experiences I have had, the relationships I have forged, and the many opportunities God has given me here at Camas to grow in my faith and in my character—if not in my height.

Call me Dauntless. I grew up in a Christian household, where I was raised by loving parents alongside four siblings. Throughout the years I’ve participated in Royal Rangers, Junior Leadership Training Academy, and Civil Air Patrol. I succeeded in getting my Gold Medal of Achievement in RR, as well as my Saber from JLTA and the rank of Cadet Staff Sargent in CAP. Though each program had its own way of functioning, they each taught servant leadership, leadership which I have seen exemplified and been able to exemplify at Camas.

The first time I went to Camas was when I was 12, at Jr. High Winter Blast. I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere, the area, and the people. The following summer was my first Summer Camp ever, at the age of 13. Immediately I was hooked, and I continued to come up, first as Support Staff for rental camps and then again for the next Winter Blast. For the next three years I volunteered as a Counselor or participated as a camper depending on the week

This is my sixth year being a part of camp, and the impact Camas has had on my life is incredible. I’ve learned so much about what it means to be a follower of Christ from my Counselors, and from Scruffy, and Choco. The community that’s built during camp is a beautiful thing, and a great representation of the Church. Each staff member being a different part of the Body of Christ, working in unity to provide a loving environment in which to share the gospel, and encourage spiritual growth. I’m excited to help provide that environment for the incoming campers and staff.

Hi, my name’s Bomber. I only came to camp for the first time in 2018, but was immediately hooked. Never before had I felt so surrounded by God; thanks to the love, faith, and service of everyone at camp. Camas is my spiritual happy place and I am so excited to be a part of loving, sharing faith, and serving this summer.
 
For many years now (relative to my age, at least) I’ve been involved in and passionate about children’s ministry. I’ve led Sunday school, VBS, and even went to Houston for a week to lead in their VBS program. Within the last four years, I joined a local youth group led by Camas speaker Van Helsing. I became a part of its student leadership team for two years. This youth group was how I came to camp for the first time! While none of those experiences have been quite as intense as camp, they have all led me to this point. It is incredible to see kids discover joy in Christ. I wish that I could have found that kind of relationship with God at a younger age. That is just one reason I am honored to serve at Camas.
 
This summer will be full of new challenges and experiences. Through whatever comes my way, it is so reassuring to know that the Camas family has my back and that the grace of God will always stay the same.

Hi! I’m Minivan… or as some know me, Thatcher Weedin. I’ve been going to Camas as a camper as long as I’ve been able to and have been a counselor for a similar amount of time. Camas Meadows has meant a lot to me over the years, as it has allowed me to strengthen my relationship with Christ, given me some of my best friends, and has allowed me to discover a gift of music. Through my years of service at camp, I have been faced with many trials and leadership challenges, such as taking care of 13 rambunctious junior high kids with one other counselor. Outside of camp, I have had other leadership opportunities, such as leading a local youth group, and working in a very chaotic job environment.

I’m very excited to take a stab at leadership this summer! I know that God has many great things in store, and I am glad I have the opportunity to be a part of them.

A note from Scruffy and Boo Boo,

We would love it if you’d pray for our interns as they lead the staff into this summer! If you would like, you can also support them financially by giving them a gift here: Donate 

Be sure to designate your donation for the interns in the comment box. Thank you!