Pre-Camp Email #18 — How to Address the Pre-Camp Jitters, and No Daylight

Date published: June 8th, 2017 | By Matthew

Hello 2017 Parents!

This is email #18 in our pre-camp series.

It is normal and natural for campers to experience the pre-camp jitters. If this is happening in your home, here are eight suggestions for what you might say to calm the nerves:

  1. All campers experience anxiety before camp. Anxiety is normal, it happens to everyone, even adults, and especially when going to a new camp. Anxiety does not mean that anything is wrong.
  2. Most new campers come to camp knowing no one, without a single friend or sibling.
  3. Longacre has a reputation for being a welcoming environment. Campers come back summer after summer because they remember being included when they were new, and they want new campers to have that same experience.
  4. Inclusivity is one of Longacre’s five values. This means we explicitly practice including other people, especially in the first two days of camp. One example of this: learning names. As hard as it is to believe, by the time you go to bed on the first night, you will probably know everyone’s name. (Anyone who learns everyone’s name on the first night gets ice cream.)
  5. Instead of worrying about whether other campers will be nice to you, it is more productive to ask yourself whether you will be nice to other campers. Remember, they are nervous too. Will you be nice to them? Will you introduce yourself? Will you learn their names? Invite them to eat dinner with you? Invite them to join in your game?
  6. There are three things about Longacre that are different from typical traditional camps: we do chores, we practice our communication, and everyone is different. Understanding this will make for a smoother transition.
  7. Here's a Driveway Video.
  8. As soon as you arrive, we’ll have things for you to do and games for you to play. Just keep an open mind about meeting others.

Now. Let’s talk about what not to say. The one thing we ask you not to say is, “If you’re not having a good time, we may come pick you up.” This causes problems, despite the good intentions, because it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A successful camp experience requires an emotional leap on the part of the camper. If your child thinks you might pick her up if she can just make it x number of days — if she sees any daylight at all — she may fixate on that date and try to hold her breath. Holding one’s breath precludes an emotional leap.

Any suggestions of your own? What’s worked for you for calming the jitters? Tell us! Call me at 717-567-3349 or email me at

Thank you,


Matthew T. Smith
Owner / Director
Longacre Leadership Camp

Here are all the links to the Pre-Camp Email Series and CampMinder.