Your 8 1/2-year-old: Off to camp

Your 8 1/2-year-old: Off to camp

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Your 8-year-old now

Sleepaway camp can be a thrilling and confidence-building experience for children who are ready for a new kind of independence. Not only do they get to learn new skills, sports, and games, they also have the chance to deal with roommates, self-care, and shared spaces, under the trained and watchful eyes of sympathetic counselors.

Camps may be as short as overnight or last for most of the summer. A good strategy can be to start with a camp that has just one overnight and build up to longer periods away from home as your child gets older.

Programs range from traditional outdoor camps to camps that focus on a specific subject, like science, cooking, or theater. Choosing a camp depends on what works best for your family.

Your child may not be ready for sleepaway camp if he has difficulty separating from you, hasn't been away from home before, or doesn't have much experience interacting with peers outside of school. Also, any recent family disruption, such as divorce or illness, may mean he needs more time with his parents, not less.

If your child still has nighttime accidents and wants to go away to camp, come up with strategies in advance for dealing with bed-wetting at summer camp, and team up with the counselors to find ways to help your child feel comfortable. Bed-wetting is very common, and camp counselors are used to dealing with it.

Your life now

Flu shots are recommended for everyone age 6 months and older, and even people with chronic conditions can get one. The Centers for Disease Control recommends getting flu shots from September through February, so if your child's annual exam falls outside of flu shot season, make a note on your calendar. You don't want to miss this important immunization.

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