Why Overnight Camp Isn’t Right For My Kid–Top 5 Concerns

Over the last 14 years, I have engaged in countless conversations with people (many of whom are friends) about whether or not overnight camp is right for their kid. These are Top 5 Concerns I hear the most:

  1. He’s too young.
  2. We can’t afford it.
  3. Don’t you have to be Jewish?
  4. He won’t even do a sleepover!
  5. He’s not good without us for too long.

These are all valid concerns, if they’re valid. In other words, if any of those concerns do apply, it’s only fair to ask yourself:

Is your reasoning purely about your kid, or is it a little bit about you too?

1. He’s Too Young: Sending your kid to overnight camp isn’t about age, it’s about readiness. But if he’s real young, and on the fence, don’t push it. Send him next year. Better to wait so he leaves wanting more, than to have to fight him to go back. The first year my husband went to camp, he was 6 years old. His parents came to get him on visiting day, but they went home without him. Not all kids are ready that young though. If you know that camp is in your child’s future, opening a dialogue about it early is definitely the way to go. Hype that s**t up! That way the kid is part of the excitement surrounding camp, and on board when the time comes.

2. We Can’t Afford It: I don’t usually mess with this one because if my husband wasn’t one of the directors at our camp, we probably couldn’t afford it either! Camp isn’t cheap. But it’s not cheap for a reason. There are a lot of costs that go into operating a quality summer camp program. Thankfully, there are tons of camps, and each one of them offers something different with different price points. There is bound to be a camp that fits the needs of your child with a payment plan that follows suit. Many even offer scholarship opportunities! And believe me, if my kids weren’t already part of a camp and we were flat-broke, I’d still find a way to send them. BUH BYE!

3. Don’t You Have To Be Jewish? To be fair, I may be the only person who gets this question. For some reason, people who aren’t Jewish seem to think our camp is only for Jewish kids (It’s not.) Overnight camp does seem to be associated with Jewish kids though. Not only has it been portrayed like that in books and movies, but a lot of us (Jews) grew up with camp in our lives. For many of us, myself included, overnight camp wasn’t an option, it was an priority: “You’re going to camp. I don’t know where yet, but you’re going.” Our parents figured out a way to get us there—if not just for us, for them too. (When I went, I don’t even know if I was fully packed before my mom was like: “LATER!”) There are all kinds of camps out there. You absolutely don’t have to be Jewish to go to camp. You just have to be a kid.

4. He won’t even do a sleepover: If this is your concern, it’s a good one—and it’s probably a good idea to address it at some point. Getting out of one’s comfort zone is something every kid learns at overnight camp, but even if he never goes, a sleepover at some point is a must unless you want your kid attending college, on-line, at your house. Plus, sleepovers are fun.

5. He’s not good without us for too long: To me, that’s the kid who needs camp the most. He may have a hard time at first, but he will cave. Something will click and he’ll realize that he’s having fun. He’s meeting new friends (many who he will have FOR LIFE), learning new things, and growing up. And he will be home before you know it. …And then, 10 minutes later, when he’s banging on your kitchen table screaming mess hall cheers and telling you to “Freeze!” or you’re “The Hopper” for that meal, you’ll either wish you could send him back, or that you could go too.