Helping Your First Time Herzl Camper Get Ready for Camp

1 Jun, 2023

We are so excited to welcome your new camper to Webster! They are gearing up for an incredible adventure filled with new friends, fun activities, and amazing memories.

While the packing list covers buying whites and labeling t-shirts, we’ve added some helpful tips to get your family ready for this exciting experience.

  1. Pack with your camper. You can lay out piles of clothes and toiletries, but guide your camper to place them in their luggage themselves. That way, they’ll know where things are when they arrive! You can also coach younger campers about how to unpack. For example, you can suggest they put their socks and underwear on one shelf, and their shorts and t-shirts on another. Dirty clothes go in a laundry bag, wet towels get hung on the Mirpeset (cabin porch) to dry.
  2. Practice using a communal bathroom. Load up your camper’s shower bag/bucket with whatever they need to get ready for bed and have them walk to the bathroom and “brush up” (Herzl lingo for getting ready for bed) using their new supplies and bag, then remind them to put all the items back inside so they’ll have them in the morning.
  3. Practice making a bed! Staff will help, but your camper should know generally how to put on a fitted sheet and spread a blanket, and how to retuck their own sheet if it comes loose.
  4. Speaking of bed…encourage your camper to articulate how they’ll help themselves fall asleep in a cabin with 10 other people. If each camper comes with a handful of strategies, they’ll know what to do on a night where they’re having trouble setting in. For example, “I’ll get snuggled up with my blanket and bear, then I’ll think of 3 good things about the day, and tell myself a story about something fun I’d like to do one day.”
    Taste of Herzl campers will go to bed at around 9:20 Central Time. Other younger campers will go to bed at around 9:40 Central Time.
  5. Encourage your child to proactively communicate with their counselors if they need help or have concerns. As a parent, you likely anticipate your child’s needs before they arise. Our staff will be happy to help, but they may need to be told directly what help is needed! In the next few weeks, please remind your camper of ways they can advocate for themselves at camp. Examples of things to work on include:
    • When I have a headache, my parents usually give me extra water. Can you help me remember to drink more?
    • I have medicine in the Marp (health center) that I can take when I feel like this, could you tell me how to get it?
    • I can’t find my stuffed bear – could you help me look?
    • I’m having an argument with my friend, can you help me work it out?
  6. Prepare your camper for what we call “Moments of Sadness.” Some people refer to this as “homesickness” but we like to think of it as expected and manageable moments of missing home, which isn’t the same as being sick! You might tell your camper, “I bet there will be times you’ll really miss home while you’re gone. Remember that you can be sad for a little bit and still have a great time! Try not to get stuck in the sadness. Tell your counselors if you need to talk or want a hug, and then get busy having fun with your friends.”

With these tips in mind, your camper will be ready to learn, grow, and evolve during their time with us. We feel honored to be part of their lives and are excited to have them with us! We hope their time at camp will be an amazing adventure leading to friendships, laughter, and a love of their Judaism.

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