How to Help Your Kids Sleep Soundly at Sleepaway Camp

Spending nights away from home can feel scary to kids and prevent them from getting the zzz’s that they need. But these small steps can make a big difference.

Overnight camp can be so exciting for kids—it’s a chance for them to spend a week or two away from home, be active, make friends, and have fun in the sun. But if this year is the first time that your child is sleeping outside his or her own bedroom for an extended period of time (and away from you and the rest of your family!), it can be pretty jarring.

That stress and homesickness can make it hard for your kid to fall asleep or sleep straight through the night. And because summer already sends normal sleep schedules packing, the shake-up can leave your child feeling tired and cranky. So how do you avoid picking up an exhausted camper after a week or two away? There are a few easy steps that you can take.

One of the best ways to encourage good sleep habits is to keep your kid from missing you too much or feeling lonely. If your child is young, pack his or her favorite stuffed animal, blanket or pillow. A reminder of home may be all that’s needed to feel safe. If your kid is a little older, frame a fun picture of your family for him or her to prop up next to the bed. And don’t forget to write letters! Getting a note in the mail will remind your children that you’re thinking of them and that you are there for them if and when they need you.

Another key is to make sure your youngster is comfortable at night. The camp’s cabin may not be as warm as your home, so pack lots of comfy layers just in case. Earplugs are another great option in case others in the cabin or tent are on the noisy side.

Finally, it may be a good idea to let your kids know that if they’re really feeling sad or stressed, they can tell a counselor and come home—and there’s no shame in that. Simply knowing that they have this option may put them at ease and lower their anxiety, helping them sleep better so they can enjoy camp to the fullest.