Preparing for WinSport Summer Camp – how to deal with separation anxiety

WinSport’s award-winning summer camps offer children unforgettable memories during the week they spend with our qualified instructors.

But like any new experience, an unfamiliar environment can create some anxiety for both campers and their parents in the early days of camp drop-off. It’s called separation anxiety and luckily, there are some simple tips you can follow to make sure the first day at camp is the best it can be for both campers and mom and dad.

WinSport 's award winning summer camps offer children a unique outdoor experience.
WinSport ‘s award winning summer camps offer children a unique outdoor experience.

Erin Rennison is a team lead for summer camps. She says it’s important parents prepare their child for camp before checking in on the first day.

“Talk about what types of activities the child will be doing at camp, emphasizing the fun that they will have,” Erin explains. “Make sure they have all the equipment and supplies required for certain camps such as snacks or athletic shoes so they feel fully prepared and confident.” (For all the details, visit our Know Before You Go camps page here.)

Erin also says it’s important to have a conversation about any fears your child might have and to let them know the instructor will always do everything they can to make the child feel welcome and comfortable at camp.

Michelle Mungar Lumley’s six-year-old son Brayden participated in Sport & Adventure and Hockey camp last year and says parents can get their children engaged the night before camp to reduce any anxiety they may have.

“Get your child to help you prepare their snacks and/or lunch, fill their water bottle and pack extra clothes so they feel prepared and begin to get excited,” Mungar Lumley explains. “It also helps to bring your child to WinSport prior to camp and just walk around. Help them to understand where they will be hanging out. New environments can be scary but if they have been there before and have an understanding of the lay of the land, it won’t be as scary come first day of camp.”

At this point, your child should feel engaged, excited and have a general sense of what to expect at the first day of camp. Now it gets really exciting – arriving to WinSport for their check-in where they get to meet their camp instructor.

As you know, your child can go from excited to nervous in a flash. Mia Giffen, a camp team lead says if your child becomes anxious, it’s important to remind them of similar of situations in which they were dropped off by their parents.

“Remind them how past experiences went – how you had picked them up in the past and the fact that you had come back. Use examples such as at a friend’s house or other camps and activities,” she says

Kristie Pshyk’s nine-year-old daughter Hailey participated in girls-only Mountain Bike and Sport and Adventure summer camps. She says parents can also experience separation anxiety, but that it’s important not to show it.

“If you are anxious about leaving your child, don’t show it. Wave and smile and say good bye and let the experienced instructors take care of the rest,” she explains. “They will call you if your child isn’t coping well. Usually once we are out of site, the child joins in and forgets they are sad to see the parent go – worried anxious parents make anxiety prone kids worse.”

Another great way for families to prepare and get comfortable before camp is to read the “know before you go” part of the WinSport website. This provides essential information including times, a map of the park, what to bring and where to go.

Other tips prior to check-in   

  • Talk to your child about camp. Get them excited about the activities and friends they will meet. Take out the scary unknown aspects of camps and create excitement before they go.
  • Talk about what types of activities the child will be doing at camp, emphasizing the fun that they will have.
  • Clearly define the week/activities – don’t surprise them
  • Have all your campfax forms and waivers signed online ahead of time to make camp check-in a breeze. Refer to the Know Before You Go document:

Other tips at check-in  

  • During check in on day one, have a brief conversation with your child and his/her instructor. This conversation will help set the tone and relationship between them.
  • When dropping off your child, talk to their Instructor and junior instructor. Show your child their group is a safe space.
  • Show your child the schedule for the week and point out the activities that you know they enjoy.
  • If possible, make good byes short so your child can quickly get acquainted with the atmosphere, instructor and fellow campers.


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