Summer Camp

Most kids look forward to summer vacation as a time free of schedules and filled with days spent outdoors with friends. Many parents, however, start to stress as summer approaches and they work to plan weeks of fun and safe camp options.

When thinking about summer camp, consider what your child can gain from a day camp, specialty camp or overnight camp:

You can start to think about overnight camp for a child who is 6 years old. While not every 6-year-old is ready, you know your child best. If he or she enjoys the outdoors, has successfully spent the night away from home, and seems interested in overnight camp, he or she may be ready. 

Does your child love animals? Math or science? Drama? There are many options for overnight camps so let your child be your guide. And let your child participate in the preparation. Talk about what the experience will be like, what the sleeping arrangements are, what meals will be like, what activities are on the agenda. Review the packing list together and pack as a team. Parents, remember to be upbeat and positive so your child is excited for the experience.

It is, however, normal to worry about your child being homesick. In fact, 90 percent of children who attend overnight summer camp feel some level of homesickness. 20 percent feel serious levels of anxiety being away. There are many things you can do to help prevent or lessen your child’s homesickness or separation anxiety. 

Camp for children with chronic illnesses

There are many camps designed especially for children with chronic illnesses. These camps are wonderful experiences as they teach children a level of independence they may not find at home. It’s also beneficial for your child to be with other children who can relate to their lives. These camps are staffed by many healthcare professionals who are prepared to manage your child’s medical condition. Following are some great resources to help you find the right camp for your child:

Additional resources:

Recommended reading:

  • The Summer Camp Handbook: Everything You Need to Find, Choose and Get Ready for Overnight Camp—and Skip the Homesickness by Christopher A. Thurber, PhD, and Jon C. Malinowski, PhD


Reviewed by Ashley DeHudy, MD and Lynn Gessner MD and Sydney Ryckman, MD

Updated July 2022