Preparing Your Child For Camp

Getting Ready with your Child

One of the best ways to prepare your child for camp is to talk about what to expect, and to involve them in the process of getting ready.  Pack for camp with your child, (not for them) so they know what has been packed and where to find it. Mark all clothing and belongings with your camper’s name. Place your camper’s name on the outside of their trunk or luggage and laundry bag. We will not be responsible for lost or damaged clothing or belongings.

Bring: Enough clothing to last two weeks (or one week, for a one-week session). Laundry is done only for campers staying two consecutive sessions, sessions 1&2 or 3&4.  If your camper wears glasses, send a back-up pair if you have them. A packing list will be sent to you in the mail, is included in the handbook.

Do Not Bring: Cell phones or any Wi-Fi devices, money, food, drink mix, candy, gum, radios, electronic devices of any kind, skateboards, rollerblades, valuables, or knives. Please think about any nice clothing or shoes you pack for camp – they can be worn pretty hard during a camper’s time at Onas, and often do not look the same at the end of the session.  Personal music devices are allowed, but there is no place for campers to charge these items. Cell phones and Wi-Fi devices will be confiscated and donated to an area family services organization. Campers will be dismissed immediately if they are found to be in possession of a cell phone.


Homesickness is a normal part of being away at camp. Most first-time campers experience homesick feelings the first few days until they learn the routine and feel comfortable with their counselors and bunk and then it lessens as the session moves forward. Our staff is very good at dealing with homesickness and will proactively plan activities in the first few days to help campers adjust to camp life. We specifically train our staff to combat this normal part of being away from home.

There are several things you can do to help your child avoid homesickness:

Involve your child: Make the decision to go to camp together, learn about the camp together, and come to the May Open House together. One of the greatest ways to alleviate ‘first day jitters’ is to come to camp and see what it’s about. When it is time to pack for camp, choose clothing and pack together. Prepare letter writing materials with them so they know where their materials are, and how to write a letter home.

Provide some practice time away from home: Going away for one or two weeks is a long time for a child who has never been away from home without a parent. Provide opportunities for your child to be away from home for one or two nights with friends or relatives without either of you calling to check in.  Remember, you will not be communicating with your child by phone at camp. Make sure your child understands this and is okay with it. The more opportunities your child has to be away from home, the easier it becomes for both of you.

Talk with your child about homesickness: Prepare them for homesick feelings by explaining that these are normal feelings that everyone experiences and that homesick feelings go away as they become familiar with camp life and

participate in camp activities. Share stories of your first time away from home and how you felt.  Assure them that Onas counselors understand and will help them deal with homesickness. Show your confidence in their ability to have a positive experience.

Don’t make deals for early pick-ups or phone calls: If you find yourself doing this, it is a strong indication that you or your child is not ready for camp. (If you are not sure about your child’s readiness for camp, please contact the Camp Director(s) to discuss your options.) You can tell your child that the Camp Director(s) or Nurse will contact you if your child needs you. Your child will feel more secure knowing that their needs will be met.

Have confidence in our ability to take care of your child: It is essential that you feel comfortable with your decision to send your child to Camp Onas. Your child will sense your confidence in Onas and this will help them feel comfortable about coming to camp. Rest assured that each camper is important to us and we will work hard to make every camper’s experience a great one. We will contact you if your child is unhappy, and will work with you to find a solution.  We are always available for you by phone or email if you have concerns about your child.