What is the ideal age to begin sending my child to camp?
Some families fear that sending their young camper away may set them up for a week of stress and homesickness. Alternatively, other families feel that starting too late means their older camper is too mature to buy into the camp experience.
With these different opinions in mind, is there actually a sweet spot for starting camp? The short answer to this question is… no! We firmly believe that ISTC is accessible for campers of all ages looking for the experience of a lifetime; however, there are several advantages in starting young!
By attending ISTC at a young age, campers establish social skills that will help them in school, sports, and other areas. Living in a cabin amongst their peers and playing sports in a team environment encourages campers to take an active role within a group. From multiple sports sessions a day with their All Sports team to “cabin-of-the-week competitions” with their cabins, campers have consistent, shared experiences with those around them. Through these various activities, we help campers gain the confidence to thrive in a social setting.
Living away from home at a young age also increases independence. Settling into a cabin with new faces presents opportunities to build friendships, but also, tasks campers with responsibility in advocating for themselves. During the ISTC experience, campers manage their own canteen spending accounts, pick their recreation activities, and keep their living areas tidy. Our counselors actively help with these things, but give campers the opportunity to make decisions so that they can feel comfortable in taking initiative.
We know developing confidence and independence at a young age through camp makes a positive difference, although the right time to start may look different for every family. We suggest involving campers in the decision process, whether it is taking a tour or reviewing our brochure together. Practicing aspects of camp, like sleeping away from home and eating different food with extended family can also be valuable. Ultimately, the right time to start is when campers are excited and comfortable, as the fun and benefits of ISTC are not limited to age.