Summer Overnight & Day Camp - Outdoor Centre - School
located in Huntsville, Ontario - 705.789.5612


Strategies for a Smooth Transition into Camp

Camp TawingoOur experience has taught us that virtually every camper takes some time to adjust to the camp setting and to those around him/her. Our job is to ensure that this happens quickly and smoothly. Please be assured that, with our help and your help, campers who overcome the discomfort of missing home gain tremendous confidence in themselves.

Starting the Transition on the Way to Camp

The transition into camp life can start happening on the journey to camp. In recent years, more and more Tawingo campers have been driven to and from Camp by car. For first time campers, however, we invite you to think about the value of a Chartered Bus experience. Bus trips provide the opportunity for your camper to:

  • Meet and interact with other campers right away helping to ease the transition into the Camp setting (where there will be familiar faces right off the bat);
  • Meet and interact with experienced Camp Tawingo Staff - who act as Bus Supervisors - providing another familiar face at Camp;
  • Ask questions of the Bus Supervisor about Camp;
  • Begin the journey towards independence and self-confidence, right away. Some first time campers who are driven to Camp find it more of a challenge to acclimatize to the Camp setting once their parents/guardians leave because their "first look" and "feel" of Camp occurred with their family present. Even a few minutes of pairing family with Camp for a first time camper may set up the expectation that the two go together.


Some Suggestions if you are Driving Your Camper to Camp:

  • Please, try not to linger. The longer you stay, the greater the likelihood that your camper perceives Camp as not being separate from family/ home;
  • Please, allow your camper - no matter how old/young - to unpack and make his own bed. The more he can make the space his own (with his counsellor’s help, if necessary), the easier it will be for him to feel like it’s his Camp "home", and the greater independence and confidence he'll feel as he begins his camp journey;
  • Please, try not to show too much emotion when saying good-bye, avoiding such phrases as, "Will you be okay?", "We’re going to miss you so much", and the like. Despite the intent, research into missing home shows the underlying message to your camper is that you don't have confidence in her ability to "make it" without you. Saying you will miss her can cause your camper to worry that you may not be okay, which in turn, may cause her to dwell on home rather than open the door, fully, to Camp. Try, instead, using phrases like: "You are going to learn great new things and make great new friends", "You’re going to be a great camper", "I’m so proud of you", as expressions of your confidence in her and her abilities;
  • If your camper runs off to play/interact with his cabinmates, this is a clear signal that he is ready to embrace Camp and have you leave for home. At times, this happens earlier than some parents/guardians would like (before they even get a chance to say much of a good-bye). While it may not be the good-bye you were hoping for, it’s a very positive sign and one about which you can be very proud! You have instilled in him the confidence to begin to strike out on his own;
  • If your camper has trouble letting go, the best thing you can do is express your confidence in her, using phrases like the ones above ... and then, as hard as it may be ... leave for home. Helping your camper through such challenging periods is what we are professionally trained and committed to do at Camp Tawingo. In the vast majority of cases we have found that once the parents/guardians are on their way, we find that campers begin their adjustment well and quickly.


While Your Camper is at Camp

Campers appreciate letters and emails from home while they are at camp:

  • Letters and emails should be cheerful and avoid mentioning how much your camper is missed at home or about the fun the family may be having while your camper is at Camp or any other "nostalgic" news. The content of your letter/e-mail might centre around such things as what fun it is to be at Camp, the many new skills being learned, and all the new friendships being made;
  • Very Important: Letters/e-mails or pre-Camp conversations that promise a shortened stay at Camp, if the camper communicates with home that s/he is nervous about Camp, make it very difficult for us to help the camper acclimatize to cabin living and Camp life. Research has shown that promises of this kind: "We’ll-come-and-pick-you-up-if-you’re-not- having-fun", convey to the camper a lack of confidence in him/her on the part of the parent(s); a lack of confidence, in the camper's ability to cope with and overcome his/her discomfort. Please be assured that, with our help, campers who miss home have and do overcome discomfort and gain tremendous confidence in themselves as a result. Please help us help your camper by choosing to avoid making such promises, either before or during Camp. Thank you.
  • Too many letters/emails from home may keep the camper’s mind on family attachments and can delay or prevent adjustments to happy Camp life. However, we suggest you write fairly regularly (i.e. one letter/email per week). Letters/emails are important.

First Letters home from NEW campers:

Camp TawingoIt may be the case that campers who take a wee bit longer to adjust to Camp, choose to express some sadness in their first letters home. After all, to miss home is natural. In a very few cases these feelings may be verbalized quite strongly. ("Please come and get me.") If you get a letter like this, please don’t panic. Chances are we have already picked up on those feelings and helped your camper. Nonetheless, please contact Camp and let us know that you have received a letter like this and we will follow up with your camper at the earliest opportunity, and be back in touch with you just as soon as we can.

Experience, again, has shown us that in virtually all cases, by the time the letter reaches home, the feelings of missing home have lessened markedly, or subsided altogether, and the camper is out enjoying all Camp has to offer. Comments like, "I’m having a blast, now" or "I was sad at first, but love it, now" are very common. To be sure, we will continue to monitor the situation closely, be in touch if we have a concern, and we will encourage your camper to write another letter home expressing his/her positive feelings.


Tawingo Talkback!

" I continue to be amazed by this camp and their ability to make the best of a situation at all times. My daughter is currently there and the weather has been dreary; however, I have absolutely no doubt that she'll come home at the end of camp telling us that she had the "best time ever" and  "can't wait to go back next year". It's just the spirit of Tawingo and we love this camp for it! "