Is Your Child off to Sleep-Away Camp this Summer? Here are 5 Sleep Tips to Ensure They’re Well-Rested And Ready For Fun!
For many of us, sleep-away camp was a summer ritual – a rite of passage when we became old enough to go off on our own and create memories and friendships. And now your child is going off too! For many new campers, this summer will be their first time sleeping away from home without Mom or Dad for more than a night or two. Cabins, bunk beds, campfires, boating, swimming, pottery, talent shows…that is a lot of newness and excitement for your camper. Add in some strange noises, whispering cabin mates and an unfamiliar bed and drifting off to sleep may be difficult – even for the best of sleepers. It is easy to see how your child may leave for summer camp rested and full of sunshine, but may return an overtired mess. In between shopping for bug spray, labeling clothes and reviewing your packing list – add these 5 tips to your “to-do list” to ensure that your child can get the sleep in they need to enjoy their camp adventure and create their own rustic nostalgia.
Pack Their Perfect Bunk in Their Camp Trunk
Your summer camp will send you a packing list to ensure that your child has everything they need. But while you’re packing, remember to recreate the comforts of home, or at least the necessities. This is especially important for the younger and first-time campers. If your child has a special stuffed friend or blanket that they can’t sleep without – make sure it goes to camp too. Pack your child’s pillow along with any blankets that are comforting to them. I know most of us think ‘sleeping bag’ when it comes to camp, but it doesn’t have to be a bag if your child doesn’t sleep comfortably in it. Most camps are ok with you bringing your own sheets and blankets to re-create a more comfy bed – especially for campers that are staying for extended periods of time. Is your child noise sensitive? In general, camps do not allow expensive electronics like iPhones, and iPads, but check to see if an old iPod can come along with a set of headphones. If that is an option, down load a white noise app or sound track that your child can listen to as they drift off to sleep. If the iPod is a no-go, remember that old Sleep Sheep from their infant days? Dust it off and check the batteries. It only plays for 45 minutes, but it may be the perfect bunkmate to fend off any distracting bedtime noises around camp. Sheep “too baby-ish”? Is a small clip on fan allowed? If so, it can do double duty to keep him cool and block out any troublesome noises.
Prepare for Child For What is to Come
If your child is one who thrives on routine (as many do), make sure that you talk through what camp will be like – including bedtime. Check out your camp’s website to see if they post a typical daily schedule or reach out to your camp to find out what your child can expect. Walk your camper through all of the details you find. Explain that while their camp bedtime routine may not include a book or some of their home bedtime rituals, it will be consistent from night-to-night and their counselors will be there to help get them ready for bed each night.
Be a Weatherman (or Women)
Know the average highs and lows for the location of your child’s camp (many weather websites have charts detailing yearly averages). Sure it’s summer and it is bound to be warm, but if your child’s camp is in the mountains or by the ocean – overnight lows may be cooler than you think. Also check the extended forecast a few days before camp to be prepared for any impending heat waves. Then pack your child’s pajamas accordingly. Be sure to include extra socks and long sleeve cotton tees for layering.
Do Your Homework and Pick a Camp that Works for your Family
All overnight camps are fun and full of activities galore. With so many great camps to choose from, you should also take into consideration the one that works best with your child’s current schedule. If your 6 year old has gotten the overnight camp bug and you are on board, check that potential camps have a schedule that isn’t too far from his norm. If he is regularly fast asleep by 7pm each night – an 8pm camp bedtime should be ok. However, a 9pm bedtime may be too much for him, especially with all of the physical activity that he will be doing. Also think about your child’s daily schedule, does your child usually have downtime each afternoon to unwind a bit? If so, many camps have a scheduled quiet time – so check for that too.
Back To Reality
No matter how prepared your child is, and how well rested they go into sleep-away camp; they will inevitably come home exhausted. If your child was only away for a week or two, get them right back on their usual schedule upon arriving home and they should adjust in just a few days. If they were a month-long or summer-long camper, adjusting may be a bit more difficult. Rather than do it cold turkey, move bedtime back to their norm in stages – by 30 minutes every few days. No matter how long your child is at camp, be sure to schedule your camp dates so that there is enough time to catch up and be well rested before starting the new school year.
This article appeared in the Boston Parent’s Paper North East Camp Guide. Click here for the digital version.
Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2015
Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 2 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at email@example.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and twitter for more great sleep tips!