Hosting a Parent Night
Sending a child to camp can be nervewracking. As a way to help alleviate these nerves, host a informational night for parents/guardians to learn more about your session.
Begin your parent night with a presentation about your camp. Painting a picture for your parents, especially first-time parents, can really calm some nerves! Remind parents to hold their questions until the presentation has concluded. Chances are, their questions will be answered with your presentation.
After you’ve concluded your presentation, it’s time for your parents to get their questions answered in real time. You can make this unstructured – have parents simply raise their hand to ask a question – or more structured – and have them submit questions ahead of time or during the session in some order.
Camp Questions to Prepare For
What's the weather like?
Questions about weather. For summer camp, be prepared to go over the following topics:
- Should they send their campers with a reusable water bottle? What’s the access to water like at camp/where can they refill the water and how often throughout the day? What happens if a camper loses his/her water bottle?
- Sun protection
- How much sunblock should they send with their camper? Do you recommend spray or lotion? Will the camp provide sun block?
- Dress code
- Are shorts okay? Tank tops? How hot does it get at camp?
- Does it get cold at night? Should campers bring long pants and long shirts, too?
- Swimming dress code – what’s the bathing suit attire? Are bikinis or two-piece bathing suits allowed up at camp for girls? Do campers need to wear shirts at the pool or lake?
For winter camp, be prepared to answer the following questions:
- Snow play
- What type of snow attire should my camper bring to camp? For example, does the camp provide snow pants or does my child need to bring his/her own?
- Cold weather attire
- Campers should bring mittens, gloves, hats, scarves, etc. – probably double of everything in case something gets lost!
- If a camper loses his/her mitten/glove/etc., will the camp provide an extra pair?
- Just as important as in the summer time! Should my camper bring a reusable water bottle? What is the access to water like during winter camp?
- Dry skin
- Bring plenty of lotion, chapstick, etc.
What's the food at camp like?
This is a good time to discuss what food at camp is like. Feel free to be general or specific here. If you know exactly what you’ll offer at each meal on each day, go ahead and tell your families that. Or, if you don’t, or want to maintain some flexibility, say generally what types of food are offered. This is also a perfect time to go over any camp meal themes they should be prepared for!
Can I visit my child?
Be prepared for: questions about your camp’s policy on outside visitors. It’s a good idea to be firm as you answer these questions so you prevent any miscommunication about visit policies down the road!
Talking points: “We strive to balance the privacy of the camp community and the openness to our visitors. To do so, we host “family day” on Saturdays. We would love to welcome family members and friends to this visit day. We are unable to accommodate visitors at any other point in the week, unless there is an emergency and you are picking up your camper”.
Can I send my child mail?
Handwritten letters will never go out of style. If you have a short camp session, encourage your parents to actually send their mail before their child departs to ensure it gets to the campsite on time!
Talking points: “Sending your camper a handwritten letter or package is a great way to let them know you are thinking of them at home. We ask, however, that if you plan to send snacks or goodies to your camper, you also include enough for their cabinmates. Counselors will ensure proper sharing takes place among the campers. To send your package or letter, please send to *address*”.
Can we request cabinmates?
What’s your camp’s policy about campers requesting to bunk together? It’s a good idea to be firm about this policy as well so you can eliminate any frustrated parents or miscommunication when cabin assignments are released.
How can I contact my child if there's an emergency?
Approach this question in two parts:
What if there’s an emergency at camp?
- Review your camp’s emergency response plan. Be prepared to answer the question “what happens if there’s a…”
- Natural disaster (fire, earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, tsunami, landslide, etc.)
- Health emergency (injured person, sick person, contagious disease outbreak, bedbugs, lice, etc.)
- Active shooter
- Missing person
What if there’s an emergency at home?
- Can parents contact their campers directly? If not, how can a parent get a hold of their camper? Who should they contact first at your camp?This is a good time to review your camp’s cell phone policy and communications strategy.
Will my child's dietary needs be met?
What are the dietary accommodations of your camp? Be transparent about what you can and CANNOT provide. If your camp allows campers to bring their own food due to dietary restrictions, it’s best to inform parents of that policy ahead of time.