Camp is a transformative experience for every Girl Scout: trying new things, roasting marshmallows under the stars, and making life-long friends and camp sisters. But that kind of transformation can be daunting or even a little scary for first-time campers. You’ve got plenty of advice on what to pack, how to pack it, and what to expect in terms of activities and adventures, but you might need a little advice on how to get your girl emotionally ready for camp. Here are our four best tips on making sure your Girl Scout is a happy camper. Or jump down to our Facebook Live recording.

Pin this post for later!

Share what you know about your girl.

No one is more of an expert on your girl’s needs and interests than you! Along with medications, food allergies, and other essential information, share any tips you have on how you keep your girl happy and healthy. Is she afraid of the dark, or needs a certain storybook to fall asleep? Does she have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school, or need a little help to come out of her shell? All of this information is super helpful to our counselors, so the more you share with us, the better prepared they’ll be to make her camp experience the best it can be.

Test-drive new experiences.

Girls of all ages go to summer camp, and there are a ton of experiences and skills she’ll get to try for the first time with us. But unlike horseback riding or archery, some of these experiences you can try at home first! Has your Daisy never taken a shower instead of a bath, or does she know how to brush her hair on her own? Or has your girl never slept outside, or gone on a hike? Test-driving some of these basic camp experiences beforehand will make her first time a little less overwhelming, so she can tackle new challenges with confidence.

Avoid homesickness.

Homesickness happens to the best of us, but it can often be easily avoided (or at least made less intense). Send along something that will help your girl feel connected to home, like one of our awesome camp kits, her favorite stuffed animal, or even a photo of family. Make sure she has materials to write letters home, or journal about her experience so she has a safe place to write about how she is feeling at camp. And send her mail! Getting letters from home is the best cure for homesickness.

Pro Tip: If you’re worried about the letters showing up on time or regularly, you can pre-write a whole packet of them and drop them off with us at the beginning of camp, and we will dole them out every few days to keep her feeling happy.

Build confidence.

If your girl is feeling scared about her first time away from home, it’s tempting to tell her things like “If it’s too much, you can call me and I will come pick you up.” Although of course you can pick your girl up if she truly needs you, saying things like this can make her think she won’t be able to do it, and undermines her ability to push through her fear, nerves, or homesickness. If you believe in her, she will believe in herself too! If you had a good experience with summer camp as a kid, share positive stories about it. Most of all, tell her you love her, you’ll write to her, and talk about all the fun she’ll have with all her new—and watch her confidence blossom.

We can’t wait for you and your girl to see the benefits of Girl Scout summer camp. With access to amazing mentors, like-minded friends, and confidence-building adventures, your girl will come home from camp a stronger, happier, more independent girl. But don’t take my word for it: check out this information-packed Q&A with Mary-Jane Strom, our Senior Director of Camps & Adventure, and two of our wonderful camp counselors for more tips and guidance on how to prep your girl for the adventure of a lifetime.

Check out the recording of our recent Facebook Live below!

What to do next:

  • Missing the link to your camper info packet? Wondering about an unfamiliar item on the packing list? Contact—our camp team is more than happy to help with any camp-related question you may have!
  • Excited to hit the trails? Review our packing tips and summer camp packing list.
  • Still considering camp this summer? Check out Mary’s post: Why You Should Send Your Girl to Girl Scout Camp, and find a program today!

Katie MockKatie Mock—Katie is the Marketing Copywriter for the Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she writes everything from tweets to Trailhead articles, and makes sure everyone dots their ‘i’s and crosses their ‘t’s. Although she was a Girl Scout for only a few years, her experiences with Girl Scouts, combined with attending a single-sex high school, gave her a profound appreciation for the power all-girl spaces have to change girls’ lives for the better. Katie moved to the Bay Area after graduating from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Linguistics; when she’s not diving into writing with a red pen, you can find her geeking out about the latest sci-fi novel, cooking anything from traditional Japanese Cuisine to pizza, or cuddling her two cats.

The Trailhead