Parent Information for Overnight Camp

Camp Preparation

It is our belief that your girls upcoming summer at Pony Gang Equestrian Youth Overnight Camp will be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences of her life. She will find Pony Gang Camp to be fun, will make life long friends, and look back at the experience with a sense of sentimentality as  she grows older.

 

Truthfully, there is a distinction between camp and ordinary life, and it may take a bit of adjustment to achieve the most out of time away from home. Over time, we adapted new approaches that improve the transition to camp life, and makes it more comforting.

 

Be positive, it's a learning experience, and for some, a first time away from home.

 

Decide on camp together, shop for camp clothes and riding attire, look over the materials, ask questions, determine what your girl can do realistically. Camp is an exciting experience, and you, as a parent, should express that excitement to your daughter !

 

If sleep-away camp was not an option for your child, and now she finally showed interest, set up some practice dates or look into Day-Camps.

 

For Overnight Camps, you may want to set up a nature oriented experience in your backyard - invite some friends, set up a tent, and spend the weekend outside. Your child may also benefit from a sleepover at a friends house or the house of relatives.

 

If your child is nervous about coming to camp, reassure her that other girls feel the same way. It's only human ! It's something new.

 

Even the campers who have been to Pony Gang Camp get a little anxious on opening day. A new counselor or perhaps a new instructor will be at camp that  your child has never met before or campers that she is not familiar with. Advise your child to be positive and reinforce her ability of making friends quickly. A positive attitude will also help her in taking in all that camp has to offer.

 

Make sure that your child knows that everyone at home wants her to have an outstanding time at Pony Gang Camp.

 

Avoid statements like “You will have fun, but I am going to miss you so much.”. Do not mix negative aspects of camp such as homesickness when your child is on the verge of leaving home for a considerable amount of time. Your child should be fully engaged with the idea of camp and not be concerned about missing Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, Grandma and the family dog. 

 

First and foremost - stay away from promising your child early "pick up" deals.

 

We can't stress this enough throughout your child's stay at camp. One of the worst things a parent can tell their daughter is    "If you dislike camp, don't worry, I'll come and get you". Believe it or not, this type of "decision" can linger throughout check-in, and the rest of camp. It's a negative approach to time away that can set them up for failure. 

 

Once a child is told that "there is a way out" they will attempt to find everything wrong with their stay at camp. From finding fault with other campers, to disliking their horse choice, your child will make camp sound worse than it is.

 

Camp operators still have yet to see a child traumatized by being away from their parents - something that never happens unless the child has a preexisting condition.

 

Talk about her concerns, ask questions and listen.

 

As you get closer to the first day of camp, it is understandable that your child may experience "cold feet" about going off to camp. Again, rather than feeding into her anxiety, you can ask him/her a few questions instead: "Did you check off all the items you need from the camp packing list ? You will look like a pro in your new riding gear !", "Did you pack your favorite stuffed animal, a camera and photos ? You can take photos and bring some memories to show us when you get back, your brother (or sister) will be jealous !. "Remember that swimming competition you did so good at ? I bet you will be as good at horseback riding too ! Communicate and reinforce her small victories and successes she has experienced in other situations.

 

Be realistic. Have realistic expectations !

 

Just like everything in life, camp has its high points and low points. Not every aspect of camp will always be taken in with enthusiasm, and every moment with wonder. Prepare your child by discussing the ups and downs that she may experience at camp. Some ideas include: that all campers may not always agree or have the same opinion, that barn chores may not always be fun or pleasant, that getting up in the morning may not always be thrilling, that you can't pick your own horse for safety reasons, that the activity for the afternoon wasn't something you expected.

 

The purpose of camp is to relax, learn and have fun. It is not to stress, to be unreasonably unhappy, or self-indulgent and fussy.