Camp Pinnacle Families’ Advice for New Campers

Camp Pinnacle03 Mar, 2021

Going to sleepaway camp from the first time can be nerve-wracking due to the uncertainty of a new experience. However, Camp Pinnacle campers and their families will tell you that spending a few weeks at camp is an incredible way to try activities that they don’t do at home and step out of your comfort zone—all with the support of their new friends and counselors. As you and your child prepare for your first summer at camp, we want to share wisdom from some true camp experts—our returning camp families! As usual, they delivered with heartfelt, thoughtful comments.

On how to pack for camp

“Have your child actually pack their trunk or duffle bag so they know what is in it. I remember one year, one of our sons had no idea that something he wanted was actually in the trunk—if he had just looked more carefully… If they put everything in there, they know what they have and where it is. Also, definitely write names on everything!” – Carole, 7th-year parent from Atlanta, GA

“I recommend duffel bags in place of a traditional camp trunk. While the camp trunk looks cool, it is also very heavy…” – Mollie, 5th time parent from Durham, NC

“If you think your child will might get homesick, glue or tape pictures to the front and back of a piece of paper, put in a page protector, and hide it in the trunk so they find it later. My kids loved this. Also, they shouldn’t be afraid to bring a blanket, stuffed animal, etc. All the kids do.” – Laura, 7th-year parent from Spartanburg, SC

“We didn’t spend a lot of money on a fancy trunk. We found a sturdy plastic one with wheels at the Container Store that has worked great for three years, and is very lightweight. It’s also the same dimensions as a traditional trunk, so it meets the standards for camp. Also, pack a lot of potential funky flair items that you don’t want to come back to your house ever again—because chances are, they won’t! (E.g., bead necklaces, blinking light objects, shedding feather boas…).” – Kristi, 3rd-year parent from New Orleans, Louisiana

“A tip for parents of younger campers: We packed entire outfits together—one per gallon-sized Ziploc. Undies, socks, shorts, shirt. That way, he didn’t have to dig through everything find clothes, which would have resulted in a big mess with stuff everywhere. He said he liked the outfit-in-a-bag approach. Just grab a bag each day and put the stuff on.” – Merywen, 3rd-year parent from Durham, NC

On how parents can spend time while kids are at camp

“What to do while the kids are away… Don’t do home projects! I made that mistake the first year and exhausted myself doing things while they were gone, so I was worn out by the time they came home. Take advantage of down time to relax.” – Carole from Atlanta

“The first days are often the hardest for me. I try to stay busy and do things I wouldn’t normally do while my child is around, like going for a longer hike that would be too challenging with a young child. Take advantage of having that time to yourself.” – Janna, 4th-year parent from Winston-Salem, NC

On communicating with your child while they’re at camp

“I mail letters before opening day so they arrive during the first few days of camp.” – Mollie from Durham

“If your camper’s first letter home (likely written on day one) is full of dread and despair (like my son’s was his first year), don’t be alarmed! This is normal, and they soon get over missing you and are on to having the time of their life. (On my son’s first night of camp ever, he wrote the words “TEAR DROP” dramatically across the top of his letter to us and drew a line to a circled smear on the paper to show us just how bad off he was. He later confessed it was just spit because he was never crying to begin with! We still laugh about this.) – Kristi from New Orleans

“Don’t pack envelopes with stamps on them because they likely won’t write to you, and then it’s a waste of money. Instead, pack stamps, envelopes, pad of paper, and pencil in a gallon-sized Ziploc, just in case. (Last year I could tell my Ziploc was never opened.) But you could include a piece of paper with addresses of people they might want to write.” Laura from Spartanburg

On opening day jitters

“You can take the staff at Camp Pinnacle at their word. They will take care of your child while your child is away from you. They are meticulous. They read every single word you write on your forms and prepare the counselors in advance for the needs of every child—even if it means that they need to make special accommodations like carry extra food and water for your child. We all still get a little jittery at drop-off time. The counselors and staff understand that separation might be hard, and they are sensitive to this issue. One of the best ways that CP prepares for this moment of separation is the fanfare with which they greet each child. Cheers, music, a bullhorn announcement of their name and cabin… It’s like each child has their own personal welcome party, and it really eases that anticipated moment of saying goodbye.” – Janna from Winston-Salem

“My advice to parents who have nervous kids is to hype up camp as much as possible. I always say to my kids, ‘I wish I could go to camp,’ and ‘you’re so lucky you get to go to camp.’ We also would watch as many videos as possible and talk about all the activities there would be and which they thought would be their favorite.” – Mollie from Durham


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