The best part of Summer Camp is making new friends. However, we know that breaking the ice isn’t easy for everyone—especially introverts. Shy kids love making new friends too. They just need a little extra help. Here are a few strategies that parents and camp counsellors can use in helping shy kids come out of their shells.
1. Focus on the Child’s Interests
Kids bond over common interests. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a psychologist and Author of Growing Friendships: A Kids Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, sums it up nicely: “Kids make friends by doing fun things together. An activity that your child enjoys can be a stepping-stone to friendship. …Some shy kids just need getting help over the initial hump, and they’re fine.” (Do they love to read? Send them to camp with a book to share with a friend - book suggestions here)
Through ice-breaking games, one-on-one conversations, and plain observation, our counsellors work hard to learn every child’s interests on the first day of camp. From there, counsellors help shy kids get the ball rolling with another like-minded children. Whether it’s showing off a Pokemon collection, playing basketball, or drawing, our counsellors will find that stepping-stone activity to help your child find a new friend.
As a parent, you can help speed this process up by telling us your child’s interests in advance. Any information you can provide will be an asset to our counsellors and your child!
2. Prepare the Child for New Situations
The first morning of Summer Camp can be overwhelming. It’s an unfamiliar place full of unfamiliar kids and grownups. In new situations like this, parents can help by preparing their child in advance.
Meri Wallace, author of How to Raise a Happy, Cooperative Child, suggests that parents prepare children for new situations by telling them “who will be there and what will happen. Help her focus on the positives of the situation and discuss what she might like to do when she arrives”
Open houses are the perfect opportunities to prepare kids for the first day of camp. They’ll tour the campus, meet their counsellors, and see their fellow campers. Kids that come to our open house will be greeted by familiar faces on the first day of camp - that can go a long way toward helping shy kids feel comfortable!
3. Don’t Pressure Them!
We’re not all extraverts—and that’s ok! Some kids need more time than others to adjust to camp. The best thing we can do as parents and counsellors is to be patient, encouraging, and understanding during that process.
If you have any concerns regarding your child at camp, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to listen to parents and brainstorm strategies in helping shy kids and ALL kids for that matter get the most out of their Laurus experience!