Family Life, Parenting

Getting Ready for Camp

Dear Frankie,
Last week when my dad said, “Squeaks, Mom and I would like to have a conversation with you.” I had an uneasy feeling about what they were about to say. Sure enough, when the three of us settled into our places in the den, my mom said, “We wanted you to be the first to know about the exciting family vacation your dad and I, and your brother and sister, will be taking this summer. The four of us will be traveling for a month and visiting the national parks. But the most exciting news of all is your application for overnight camp at The Camp for Doggie Champs has been accepted, and you, Mr. Squeaky, will be living at the camp for the entire time we are away.” I was stunned, but knowing my parents, I knew there wasn’t anything I could say to change their minds. I have never been to camp. So, if you have any information about what I might expect as an overnight camper, I would be very appreciative. I would also like to know why some dogs are so enamored of their camps and can’t wait to go back year after year.

Signed a nervous camper,

Dear Squeaks,
Understandably, you feel uneasy about being away from home and living with new dogs and people in an unfamiliar setting. Be assured that camp counselors have lots of experience smoothing the way for dogs new to camping. There will be both human and canine counselors waiting to greet you when you arrive. They will present an overview of the camp’s activities and schedules, answer your questions about camp life, and provide a tour of the campground. The human counselor assigned to you and your bunkmates is responsible for your care and safety. You can go to this counselor whenever you need to chat, discuss a problem, or ask a question. They will also provide information about morning and evening revelry and routines, and show you where you will go for showers, meals, and quiet time. The canine counselors are like big sisters and brothers; they will help you find your bed, settle in, and give you and your bunkmates time to meet and get acquainted. The canine counselors also provide one-on-one companionship for dogs who need extra support to adjust to camp life. The canine counselors will probably ask you and your bunkmates if you care to have a personal companion. Many new campers find it a relief to have a companion for a few days to help them get into the swing of camp life. So, don’t be shy about asking for one-on-one time.

You asked me why some dogs love going to camp every summer. So, I asked Lily, a seasoned camper. She said, “Are you kidding? What dog in their right mind wouldn’t like, for starters, homemade breakfasts, lunches and dinners, tennis and sailing lessons, arts and crafts, free play, nap time on a hammock, swimming, square dancing, and evening bark and howl alongs by a campfire?” She also said she loved camp traditions, singing the old camp songs, roasting marshmallows on a stick, hiking familiar trails, and most of all, sharing these experiences with the good friends she had made over the years. “It was the fond memories of these wonderful times and friends that made it hard for me to wait for summer to come and to do it all over again.” I don’t know about you Squeaks, but after Lily’s testimonial, I’m ready to sign up.


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