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As a leading authority for summer camps and youth development, ACA works to preserve, promote, and improve the camp experience.

Things To Remember On Your First Day Of Camp

May 13, 2019

First day of camp. These four words unofficially kick-off summer for thousands of young people across New England. We know the first day of camp can be incredibly exciting. It can also bring up some other feelings and questions. Below are five things to remember when going into your first day of camp. We encourage families to review and discuss this list with their campers prior to departing on the best summer ever.

  1. Nerves are normal
    • Everyone is at least a little bit anxious their first day of camp. From the director on down to your counselor, every person had a first day of camp. Directors lead a summer for the first time. Your counselors greet their first campers, and your bunkmates all had to start somewhere. Everyone had a first day of camp, and everyone gets a little nervous. That feeling is a natural part of a new experience, and if you haven’t noticed, there are quite a few people at camp who came back. They made it through their first day and went on to have wonderful first summers. You will too.
  2. Talk to your counselors
    • Many campers don’t consider this, but the staff at camp have been trained to make sure you have a great summer. Counselors and staff spend significant time learning to be great instructors, lifeguards, and leaders. They’ve mastered the skills to help you adjust and ensure you are safe and happy at camp. Camp staff are excited you’re finally there. This is what they signed up for, and they want you to have the best time ever! Trust them when they suggest meeting some bunkmates or joining a get-to-know-you game. Your counselors are there for you. If you have questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to ask.
  3. Homesick. It happens. It’s okay.
    • This isn’t automatic for all campers, but as day one goes on, some feel a little homesick. Thinking about home when you’re away is natural. However, your family will be there when you get back from camp. They miss you too, but they really want you to have fun. In fact, they’re probably jealous that you’re at camp, and they’re not. Don’t stress over that little pit in your stomach. Most campers experience it. Your counselors probably went through it too. Try not to let it stop you from the action going on around you. If you stay involved, you’ll likely wake up in a few days forgetting about that feeling. You’ll be too busy having fun.
  4. It’s all new now, but just wait. Give it time.
    • Right now, everything is new or strange. The campers in your bunk are new to you. Counselors are new to you. The songs and games and schedule are new to you. And it feels like everyone knows each other or the right words to the song or how to play the game. Remember, they didn’t arrive with this knowledge on their first day. They gained it through time and experience at camp. Eventually, these new people become new friends. New counselors become new role models. New songs, stories and games become new traditions. And for many campers and counselors, camp becomes their new summer home. Summer camp has been around for over 150 years. It works. Just trust a little and give it some time.
  5. Camp goes by fast. Embrace it.
    • There’s an old saying that a day at camp is like a week in the outside world. Camp days may feel long, and the end of the session might feel like it’s a year away. But hold on tight. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Try new activities. Sing new songs. Meet new people. Summer camp is an old, tried and true tradition that creates fun, friendships and memories. Embrace this experience. You only have one first day of camp, and before you know it, you’ll be counting down the days until your second first day at camp.

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