Going to camp for the first time can be exciting and overwhelming all at once. Spending time looking through the website of the place that you will be staying at is important. Looking through google images at photographs taken from different angles is also extremely helpful. As is looking and talking about the location and distance between things like the dormitories and bathrooms on the aerial views on google maps.

What items to pack? How far in advance do you need to purchase items? What type of unique items are being collected to be taken? Or is old clothing the best because its going to get dirtier or won’t be taken care of as well or may be likely to get lost? Does your child have favourite t-shirts that they prefer to wear repeatedly? How will that be managed without the ability to wash things? Repeated use of the same clothing can be visible. Knowing this in advance it may be helpful to put out all of the clothing options in a line up on the bed to help your child make choices about what they will be able to take with them and what they will cope with wearing.

Being able to tolerate wearing a ‘standard’ set of pyjamas is important for staying away. Some individuals may prefer to sleep in underwear, others may remove items of clothing once in their bed. This isn’t appropriate for staying away at camp with other students or sleeping in a group dormitory. Spending time in advance working out which material is the best suited for coping with these different sleeping arrangements necessary for camp is important. Tolerating this for a few days in a row may be all that is necessary just to get through camp. Talk through the details and time frame so that individuals don’t feel threatened that this will be a new routine that will be then set as an expectation, that this is only to get through what is socially appropriate when around other people i.e. that you are appropriately clothed. Knowing that it isn’t appropriate to walk around with no clothes on or in your underwear is important. Knowing what to take with you into the shower cubicles in the separate bathrooms is also important so that you don’t forget to take any items and then out of habit don’t finish the normal routines that you follow. Packing items into a separate bag is helpful. Looking at photographs of the bathrooms can also be helpful to talk through where to place items so that things don’t get wet.

Sleeping over at camp may be something that kids find uncomfortable and like with sleepovers at friends houses they may ring their parents to come and get them to take them home. They may not know this in advance. Some kids have attended camps with their parents staying in a hotel over night somewhere close to the camp grounds so that they were within quick reach as a support source if needed. It may also be an option for the student to stay in the hotel over night with the parent and to attend the camp activities during the day so that they can engage as much as they could. Forcing themselves to participate as much as they can may result in periods of being overwhelmed. This may change how they interact with these types of options in the future.

Being able to sleepover at friends houses for longer periods of time may be challenging regardless of how old someone is. Being able to go away on holiday with your parents may provide the option for more support first due to the consistency in food routines and expectations of physical interaction and routines being allowed to be more like the same ones at home.