First Time Campers

First Time Campers

We want your camper to have the best camp experience possible! The best thing you can do to prepare your camper is to use positive language and an excited, upbeat tone when talking about camp. Here are some tips to make the first experience the best it can be. Preparation and practice for campers:

  • Have your camper live out of a suitcase for a few days.
  • Practice “going to camp” by having your camper spend a weekend at a friend’s or relative’s house to practice taking care of themselves.
  • Have your camper take showers instead of baths.
  • Have your camper practice washing their hair on their own.
  • Go over the packing list and have your camper help so they know what is in their suitcase.
  • Encourage drinking water with meals.
  • Talk about living and working with others. At camp, we practice living the 4-H pledge. The camp community is like a big family and we expect campers to respect themselves, others and the environment.
  • Talk with them about what to do if something is wrong. Encourage your camper to talk to a counselor when they have conflicts with a friend, if they are hungry or homesick, lost their toothbrush, etc. Counselors can help if they know what the problem is!

We want you to be prepared for questions your child might ask. Below are some of the most common questions and responses for you to consider.

  • What if I wet the bed?
    No big deal. Just tell a counselor and they will take care of it discreetly and wash the bedding and clothes.
  • What if no one likes me?
    There will be a variety of campers in the unit and many campers who don’t know anyone else. Counselors will start the week off with games to help you get to know one another as well as check in during daily community circles.
  • What if I get sick?
    Your cabin mates and counselors can help you and will take you to see our health aides. You will be fixed up in no time and make sure you are healthy enough to participate!
  • What if I really miss home?
    “That’s ok. I will miss you too, but you’ll be having a great time with your new friends! Your counselors are there to give you the support you need and I’ll see you on Friday!”
  • What if I’m scared of bugs?
    There are bugs at camp, but they won’t hurt you if you don’t mess with them. Your cabin mates and counselors can help you if you get too scared.
  • Missing Home Most campers experience “homesickness” or missing home to some degree. Homesickness is not so much about missing home as it is about making sure this new place is safe. We have many strategies that our staff and counselors have been trained in to help campers feel better. This adjustment period usually takes about 48 hours. So by Wednesday, when you just received your first “please come get me” letter, your camper is already feeling better and having fun. At this point, you have two choices:
    • Call the camp director and see how your camper is doing.
    • Wait a day or two for the next letter.
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Nebraska 4-H Camps and Centers programs are American Camp Association accredited.