For an outgoing child, summer camp opens them up to an exciting new world of people and experiences. For shy kids, however, the prospect of adjusting to a new environment while trying new activities and attempting to make new friends can be quite overwhelming.
The following tips can help you, your counselors and your volunteers ease fears and worries so that the shy kids can enjoy their summer camp experience to the fullest.
Accentuate the Positive
First, acknowledge a shy child’s fears about camp, but emphasize that the experience is something to look forward to. Focus on the positives. A great way to do this is to remind them of a setting in which they’ve had a great time in the past, in spite of their fears. For example: “I know you’re nervous, but you’ll have so much fun. You’re going to do so many arts and crafts, and I hear you really love art class in school.”
Use Movie Magic
Nothing gets kids in the spirit better than watching classic summer camp movies. Screen a fun film such as The Parent Trap, Camp Rock or Meatballs. You could also suggest a pre-camp movie night to parents.
Give Shy Kids A Quieter Outlet
If a shy child needs a short break from camp life, provide paper, pencils, stickers and crayons to write a letter or to draw a card. This serves several purposes. First, it provides a connection to home and lets them pour out their experiences on paper to share with a loved one. It also gives them a calm, focused activity to work on during free time–instead of sitting alone and possibly feeling left out.
Bring a Familiar Favorite
Encourage a new camper to bring a favorite item from home. It could be a stuffed animal, their favorite pajamas or a lucky t-shirt. No matter the choice, a comforting item in an overwhelming place may be just what they need to feel safe.
As you’re preparing for the busy season ahead, check out 12 tasks that ACTIVE’s Camp & Class Manager can help you with before, during and after each session. Download our program checklist to make sure no tasks fall through the cracks.