How can You Help an Anxious Teen Look Forward to Summer Camp?
If your child has anxiety about attending a sleepaway summer camp there are some strategies that you as a parent can use to help them prepare and stay calm in the weeks leading up to the opening day of camp. More than one in 20 kids and teens in America have anxiety or depression and for the majority, this won’t stop them from going to camp. If your child is excited about their upcoming adventure but is a little worried that anxiety may stop them from making the most of the experience, how can you help them keep their ‘fight or flight response’ in check?
Making Arrangements with Friends
Kids who have anxiety can feel much more comfortable about going to camp if friends they know will be joining them. It probably won’t be difficult to get friends excited about a camp at Stone Mountain Adventures, where kids can take part in so many amazing water and mountain activities. Even if friends are doing other things, let your child know that Stone Mountain Adventures is special because there are only about 60 campers per session. Therefore, there is a warm family atmosphere that will help your teen feel protected at all times.
Camp leaders should ideally know beforehand if your teen has anxiety, so they understand that your teen may need to take a bit of time for breathing exercises, or they may be reticent to take part in activities that might exacerbate their anxiety. Seasoned camp staff will know to recognize and help your child feel comfortable if anxiety hits. You can also inform them of techniques that work well with your child. For some teens, simply being accompanied until anxiety subsides can be a big help.
Preparing Physically for Camp
Kids who are anxious about having to take part in sporting activities can build up their fitness levels throughout the year, so that they feel in fine form when summer comes around. They should also prevent skin problems that can arise from being out in the sun all day - including sunburn. Showering at the right time of day is important. Ideally, teens should shower right before applying moisturiser and sunscreen, to enable these products to penetrate skin and do their job under the hot summer sun. If your child has eczema or other skin conditions, they should take short showers and immediately moisturize skin. This will ensure that itching and dry skin doesn’t lead to scratching and irritation. Make sure your child brings any medication they need so they don’t feel anxious about being far from home.
Preparing Mentally for Camp
Anxiety is much more than an unpleasant sensation. When it is extreme, it can cause panic attacks that make it difficult or painful to breathe. Anxiety can freeze teens in a state of helplessness, stopping them from taking part in school or social activities. Before your child leaves for camp, they should already be working on mastering anxiety. If anxiety is serious, seek help from a psychotherapist or psychologist, who can provide your child with a diagnosis and treatment. Often, treatments are completely natural, and involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The latter invites teens to understand the inexorable link between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can teach them to identify triggers and adopt specific behaviors to stop nip anxiety in the bud.
Yoga and Mindfulness
Mindfulness activities such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and Tai Chi are three ancient Easter practices that have been found to significantly reduce levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Teens with anxiety can reduce their chances of a panic attack by including mindfulness practice every day. Camp makes the perfect setting for a quick meditation or yoga session in the Great Outdoors. Indeed, nature in itself is a powerful stress hormone buster, with studies showing its importance in inducing a better mood and a state of calm.
Pranayamic or Controlled Breathing
One technique teens will learn in yoga and similar classes, is pranayamic or controlled breathing. Simply taking several seconds to inhale air and even longer to exhale stops teens from breathing in too much oxygen in short breaths, thus keeping panic attacks at bay. The best thing about breathing is nobody even needs to know you are doing it. Therefore, teens who would rather not share their anxiety with others at camp can simply begin breathing, noticing how their heart and breathing rates are immediately lowered.
Camp is a great way for your child to grow as a person in addition to learning a plethora of outdoor skills. Anxiety doesn’t have to stop your teen from enjoying this experience. Make sure your child has professional help, and that he or she truly wants to go to camp. Techniques like breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and keeping a diary will help reduce anxiety, so your child can enjoy the best of camp life in the company of so many new friends.
SMA Teen Camp is a Great Option for Teens with Anxiety about Camp
If your child has anxiety about attending a sleepaway summer camp Stone Mountain Adventures Summer Camp for Teens is very different to what they might normally expect. With only 60 campers per session and a warm family atmosphere.
Our teen “tween” campers learn new skills, gain self confidence, make strong friendships and become members of our strong, value centered summer community. Things that make SMA Teen Camp unique are:
- Teen Focused Activities and Events
- Choose Your Own Activities Everyday
- With Only 60 Campers It’s Easy to Be a First Time Camper
- Adventures and Camping Overnights Out of Camp
- Campers increase self-confidence and independence
We also offer 3 “Special Option Programs” for campers who want to specialize on activities including:
As with many aspects of teenagers lives our camp is also a very social place and we work hard to model and encourage positive relationships, create community in an authentic way, stop cliques from developing, and take away many of the traditional pressures that teens feel in school.
The result is that campers feel a new found freedom to explore who they truly are while at the same time feeling like they have a new “home away from home” at Stone Mountain Adventures.
SMA can help them feel ‘at home’ while they enjoy a plethora of fun activities.