How to Prepare for Summer Camp!

By Bette Bussel, Executive Director, American Camp Association, New England June 16, 2021

For many Berkshire County camps like Kutsher's Sports Academy, the countdown to the big opening day has begun!

`Once final camp decisions have been made and registration logistics are well underway, parents and guardians of first-time campers may be unsure of how to prepare themselves and their children for upcoming summer camp experiences. The American Camp Association, New England offers the following pointers:

  • Pack efficiently — What gear will you need? Your camp offers the best advice—what campers really do need.  If a packing list is provided by the camp, carefully follow it. Whether you’re filling a daypack for day camp or a duffle, backpack or trunk for overnight camp, remember that more is not necessarily better. Over-packing is the most common camp prep error families make. Overpacking creates difficulty in finding essential items quickly—the swimsuit for free swim, for instance. Over-packing increases the chances that possessions will get lost somewhere in the camp. Over-packing burdens the camper.  

  • Pack together — If campers are to manage their belongings while at camp (for the day or for weeks at a time), they need to pack them! Camp experiences teach children valuable life lessons in how to keep track of and to take care of their belongings.  If adults do the packing for and not with campers, children don’t know what they have or where to find it.

  • Practice independence — Camp provides an opportunity for each child to benefit as an individual and as a member of a group, from time spent in a world designed exclusively for children. It also offers parents and children a chance to practice normal, healthy separation, for the day or for several days or weeks at a time. At camp, children develop autonomy and a stronger sense of self. They make new friends, build skills, and experience teamwork. And at the end of camp, parents report their children’s increased sense of independence. Schedule some time away from home for the day or overnight with friends and family members.

  • Talk, talk, talk — It is only natural that as the first day of camp approaches, some children may experience uneasiness. Encourage your child to talk about these feelings. Let children know that you are confident in their ability to handle the independence that being a camper brings. Remind the child of other times they have been independent — sleepovers and time away from home with friends or family, etc.

  • Get real — It is important for children and parents to maintain realistic expectations. Camp is a microcosm of the real world, so just like life, there will be highs and lows. Parents should encourage realistic views of what camp will be like, discussing both the high points and the low points children may experience. Remind children that the most important thing is to relax and have fun at camp.


  • Prepare to move through homesickness with confidence — If homesickness hits, things will go more smoothly if there’s a plan in place. Discuss beforehand what the camper might do when missing home. Empower the child to seek a counselor’s help. Prepare yourself to support your child’s ability to adjust to a new setting. Try to follow the camp’s advice. Remember that for most children homesickness is a passing phase and growth opportunity. Working through it can be tremendously empowering! And your plan will be the first step.

  • Look forward to keeping camp memories alive  Campers love to reminisce. So set your child up for success by planning for what will happen with photos and camp memorabilia. Will there be a photo album? A special box for collecting camp memories? Get the rest of the family ready to hear camp stories and songs! Those can go on well into the winter and spring until it’s time to return to camp.

Thank you to our 2021 Summer Camp Sponsor:

Click HERE for the Berkshires Macaroni Kid Camp & Summer Activities Guide!