How to Handle Youth Camp (A Guide for Parents and Teens)
Youth camps are a great way of allowing teenagers to go on holiday on their own for the first time. They have the freedom to explore and enjoy new experiences without the embarrassment of their parents being present. For the parents it’s the chance to relax for two weeks without the worry of where their offspring are and what they will be doing. If your teen has been away before then your nerves will be slightly more manageable but for the first timers (parents and teenagers) here are some items for your checklist.
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What to pack
Depending where the youth camp is located will influence what you pack. A camp based in England will require all weather clothing whereas a summer camp in the French Alps will be a different matter. Even so, it would be a good idea to check local weather forecasts for the region before the departure date.
Don’t leave the packing until the last minute. You’re bound to forget something. Most summer camps will provide a list of essentials for young people to bring with them. Whatever you pack ensure it’s sufficient for the two weeks as it’s unlikely that the camps will offer laundry facilities (and let’s face it, would your teenager use them?).
If they’re traveling alone for the first time (extra stress for you!), check out the airline on their supervisory policy for unaccompanied minors. While most airlines will allow teenagers to travel alone, they must be accompanied by an adult at check-in and leading up to departure. You must advise the airline in advance. If you’re booking with a reputable tour company transfer from the airport will be arranged so once they’re on the flight you can relax. Or try to at least.
Check out the camp’s activities
Most camps will offer a variety of sporting activities covering horse riding, abseiling, rock climbing, kayaking and so on. If your teenager isn’t particularly sporty choose a camp with additional activities on offer. For older children or those who prefer learning, select a camp with learning activities such as language skills. Some also offer entrepreneur camps for budding ‘young apprentices’ which will hopefully motivate and inspire them in their search for a suitable career choice. It’s important to discuss any issues with your teenager before they leave.
Health and Safety
Ensure that camp staff are aware of any health issues or allergies that your teen may have, such as asthma or dietary requirements, in advance. When it comes to safety a reputable tour operator will have security across the camp and restricted access. All staff should be CRB check and an ABTA or ATOL bonded company is recommended.
And Don’t Forget
While it may be an adventure camp for kids, it can be a concern for you. Teenagers are notoriously bad at keeping in touch with their parents when they’re having fun but no matter what they say, they do want to know you’ve missed them! Perhaps include some self-addressed postcards in their luggage so they can mail one back to you. Text if necessary but the idea of a camp is to encourage teenagers not to use their mobile ‘phones too much. Just in case they are homesick send an odd text or two to let them know you’re missing them. You’ll know how much is too much. You might even want to hide the odd note inside their suitcase but again, some teenagers would be mortified to find something like that from their parents, no matter how much you love them. It’s really not cool.
Youth camps offer a great solution to that annual holiday dilemma of how to keep the family happy, especially for older teenagers. With a few simple measures to know they’re safe you’ll be able to relax and enjoy their holiday as much as they will.