Mia Freedman: This is what it takes to get an 8 year-old girl to camp.

Mia Freedman: What do kids need to know before they go away for a few nights on their own?

I sent my daughter off to Year 3 camp this morning. She’s 8. And this is a Big Deal. Preparations have been going on since the start of the school year when we first found out about the camp. But they’ve really ramped up in the past seven days.

Two new pairs of shoes were bought from Target (neoprene ones for ‘ponding’ and cheapie trainers to trash). Did a full week of sleeping bag training – both sleeping in it and learning how to roll it back up.

Had a practice sleep-over (in sleeping bag) at her best friend’s house.

Packed and re-packed. Talked about the importance of taking a sheet due to likelihood of bed bugs on festy cabin mattress. Calmed her down and quickly revised “bed bugs” to “dirt”.

Tied ribbons and bought tags for her bag to make it more easily identifiable. Agonized over the possibility of not being in a cabin with her friends. Tried to reframe it as an “exciting opportunity to make new friends!” in spirit of Mary Poppins.

Bought a new torch because the one we already have at home is too heavy. Apparently.

This is an illustrative photo and not a picture of Coco.

Discussed the importance of wearing shoes in the shower to avoid tinea.

Confirmed that tinea is indeed curable and it would not be life-threatening if she did, in fact, get it. Explained that no, she did not need to wear shoes to bed because you can’t get tinea from the inside of a sleeping bag. Bought new long sleeved t-shirts because they were on the packing list and she had none that still fit.

Debated for quite some time about which cuddly toy to take. Did visualizations to practice imagining my arms around her at night if she felt nervous. Talked through how it’s always scary to do something new but how the school would absolutely not make her do anything that was dangerous.

Dismissed the idea (mine) of taking contraband food for a midnight snack because “no way mum, it’s like, literally against the rules”.
This isn’t even the half of it.
And they’re only gone for 24hrs.

One night.

Back tomorrow.


Girls, man……

What would you have to teach your daughter for her to spend a night or two away from you? What advice do you think kids on school camp need?