Teaching the Art of Making Friends Before Summer Camp

Sponsored by Wardlaw + Hartridge Summer Adventures

By Marisol De Los Santos May 14, 2024

Picture this: It's June 2023, and I'm on a mission to find the perfect summer camp for my 5-year-old. Call it fate, good vibes, or just plain luck, I stumbled upon Wardlaw + Hartridge Camp Funshine. With weekly sessions, lunch included, and an impressive 1:5 teacher/student ratio, it was the ultimate deal! While I was thrilled with the camp's offerings, the catch was that my little one wouldn't know anyone there. Thankfully, it turned out to be a chance to enroll in a reputable institution with a rich educational history dating back to 1882, all while putting to the test the friend-making strategies we'd been practicing for months.

I realize that many of you might be saying strategies to make a new friend sound like over-the-top helicopter mothering, but I swear by it. Drawing from my experience as a marketer, I've seen the value of being able to initiate conversations that foster genuine connections. Developing this skill isn't just beneficial for personal interactions; it can also open doors to exciting opportunities and prove valuable in professional settings. In this little guide, sponsored by Wardlaw + Hartridge, I'm spilling the beans on some handy tips for fellow parents to boost their kids' friend-making skills before summer camp.

  • Play Detective: Alright, so first things first – tell your munchkin to put on their detective hat. Encourage them to think about potential pals by looking for shared interests, obvious connections, or maybe someone who could use a helping hand. Take time to review odd behaviors, appropriate conversation, and suitable spaces to make friends. I encourage the girls to be friendly only when I'm nearby and in safe spaces like school, camp, or after-school activities. 
  • Let's Play Pretend: No, seriously, get ready for some epic pretend play. Role-play different scenarios with your little one, where they're the captain of the friend-ship, initiating chats and inviting pals to play. It's like a mini-drama class but for making buddies!
  • Go on a Finding Friends Adventure: Skip the prearranged playdates and head to the library for an age-appropriate activity on a day your kiddo is ready for adventure. If they dislike surprises, mark a date on the calendar to have a Finding Friends Adventure. Nudge them to spot potential playmates from the children attendees and to approach a child you both agree is appropriate.  It's like a ninja mission for social skills – stealthy and fun!
  • Practice What You Preach: While you are out together, show them that you use the same strategies yourself. Approach a parent you’ve spotted at other children’s activities and introduce yourself. Or when you discuss your day, tell them when you’ve used the strategies. Openly discuss your nervousness while stressing how excited you are to have a new connection.
  • Embrace the Rejections: Sadly, not every interaction is going to end in a best friend forever status, and that's cool. Teach your kiddo the art of shrugging off rejections. The crucial takeaway is to help them avoid assuming ill will or placing blame on themselves for any perceived shortcomings. Clarify that in unfamiliar encounters, it's impossible to know the reasons behind unfriendliness, and it's highly unlikely that it has anything to do with them personally.
  • Channeling Empathy: Get those empathy gears turning! After being rejected, encourage your kiddo to think about what others might be going through – tiredness, shyness, missing their parents, fear of being in a new place, or maybe a language barrier. Remind them that kindness is a superpower. But if they decide not to approach the child again, tell them that you trust their judgment. 
  • Applaud the Effort: When your kiddo takes a social leap, give them a standing ovation. Celebrate those small wins with heaps of positive reinforcement. It's like cheering them on in the Olympics, but for making friends.
  • Camp Chat Session: Before the camp adventure begins, have a chit-chat with your little one. Discuss potential scenarios, prep them for introductions, and build up the excitement by framing friend-making as the ultimate adventure.
  • Camp Vibes Matter: Picking a camp with good vibes is key. Opt for a place like Wardlaw + Hartridge that's all about inclusivity, friendly counselors, and a mix of awesome activities. When I went to pick up my daughter after her first day at Funshine Camp, she asked me to stay for aftercare because she wanted to keep playing with her friends. By the end of the week, she'd been asked on multiple playdates. 

Wardlaw + Hartridge Summer Adventures has it all –  beloved summer activities, cutting-edge creativity, and exhilarating sports. Mix and match to create the perfect summer blend, where adventure meets art and academic wins. Come rain or shine, campers are in for a blast, whether they're making a splash in the indoor pool or galavanting on the lush green sports fields. Moreover, Wardlaw + Hartridge offers the two conveniences that parents crave, hassle-free busing and a nutritious lunch served daily.

Setting your little ones up for friendship success at summer camp is a wise move. Combine these down-to-earth tips with a camp that's all about good vibes, and you've got a recipe for a summer filled with laughter, adventures, and new buddies.

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 General Day Camp

 Camp Funshine: Pre-K & Kindergarten
 June 24 - August 9
 Adventure Camp: Grades 1 - 5
 June 24 - August 9
  • Staff ratio of at least 1:5
  • Outdoor and indoor games
  • Pool twice a week (Staff ratio is 1:3)
  • Daily nutritional lunch
  • Hands-on science or art activities
  • Outdoor & indoor games
  • Pool twice a week
  • Daily nutritional lunch
  • Special Event or Field Trip once a week

 Sports Programs

 Sports Camp: Grades 1 - 8
 June 24 - August 9
 Soccer Camp: Grades K - 12
 August 12 - 16
  • Pulse Sports coaches train the campers in the morning
  • Outdoor & indoor activities in the afternoon
  • Pool four times a week
  • Weekly special event or field trip  
  • Daily nutritional lunch
  • Valencia Soccer Academy coaches provide athletes with high-quality training that improves their game
  • Athletes will be grouped based on age and skill level

 Theater Programs

 Musical Theater: Grades 5 - 8
 July 15 - August 9
 Performing Arts And A/V: Grades 8 - 12
 June 24 - July 12
  • Vocal coaching, acting, costume design, and set design
  • Work on a live production in the morning
  • Enjoy typical camp experiences of indoor & outdoor activities in the afternoon
  • Pool twice a week  
  • Daily nutritional lunch
  • Applications are due May 1. There is no fee to apply to the program
  • Intensive training in live performance, media production, or both
  • At the end of the program, students will have a variety of projects to use in college applications 
  • Daily nutritional lunch

 Academic Program

 Summer Scholars: Grades 7- 9
 June 24 - August 2

  • 8:45 am - 10:30 am Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1
  • 10:45 am - 12 pm Reading/Writing
  • 7 & 8 Graders can join one of the other camps for the afternoon activities

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