Lack of experience sleeping away from the family home, spending extended time with other students and teachers, changes to routine and reduced sleep can all affect the experience a child has when they attend school camp. Let’s take a look at some handy hints for helping get the most out of a camp: 

Talk about the feelings 

There’s often lots of feelings that go along with getting ready for camp, and sometimes they can be big!

Talk about the feelings children have about camp and acknowledge and validate them. Help them understand that while some big feelings can be challenging, it’s OK to have these feelings and we can give them a name and talk about them.

Sometimes the process of identifying feelings, associating them with changes to thinking and how your body feels then planning how to respond can help a child manage more easily in the weeks coming up to a camp.  


Some kids love using a checklist, while for others its not a tool that works well for them. If you have checklist lovers in your class, use them for preparing lists of things to bring and actions to take before they go away.

Checklists can be great for a packing list, a one week, three days and night before prompt or for learning an important skill before you go.

For the non-checklist folk, help them plan ahead with some verbal or visual reminders, or use prompts from a program such as Boardmaker to help them remember a sequence of events and understand what comes first, next and last.

Boardmaker and other similar programs are great for designing cards or visual prompts that can be attached to a chart or removed when each step has been completed.  

Packing list 

A packing list needs to include all the everyday items a child will need on camp, as well as those important extras that help them feel confident and reassured.

Depending on the age of your student group you could use text or picture-based packing lists, making sure that things like a teddy, special pillow case or favourite book or picture are prioritised.

Some students find it easier to organise their clothes into separate bags so they know they can easily find the clothes they want to wear for each day.

Talk about how many of each item students will need to avoid over packing (and the resulting very large bags that need to be carried on and off a bus).  

Planning for meals 

Meal times during camp are a wonderful opportunity to practice new skills and discover the fun of sharing a meal together with others in a group.

This is a time where students can work together in small groups to set and clear tables, help with serving, wash dishes and tidy the meal area.

Depending on the setting, meal times can also include cooking and eating outdoors. Children are often hungrier on camp than at home as they are generally busy and active during the whole day.

Access to a fruit bowl and a place to refill water bottles can help build independence skills as children are able to help themselves to a quick snack when they need it.  

Talking to students about meal times before they go on camp is helpful so they know what to expect and understand how they can help make meal times run smoothly.

Some students may like to practice setting the table at home, or you could try a hosting a shared meal in the classroom beforehand with everyone bringing their lunch and sharing it together at a group of tables.

Remember to plan ahead and work collaboratively with families of children who have food allergies or intolerances, so they can be as independent with their meals as is safe and reasonable.

Some students may need very close supervision during meals to ensure they are able to eat safely, and do not have contact with a food that could trigger a reaction. 

Nailing sleep 

Often sleeping away from home can mean that children have a little less sleep each night than they are used to. Some children might find it difficult to fall asleep in a different bed to their own, particularly with all the chatter and movement that is a part of a group of children sharing a room.

Encourage children to bring something they think will help them relax and get ready for sleep, or be helpful if they wake during the night.

This could be a favourite toy (time for teddy to come out of the bag for a visit!) a familiar pillowcase or item of bedding. Talk to children about how they can go to the toilet during the night if they need to, and arrange how they can do this safely.  

Take a break from tech 

Camp is a wonderful opportunity to take a break from technology and for children to learn they can thrive in a camp setting without phones and smart watches.

Make sure children and families alike are clear about technology expectations so that everyone is operating from the same set of requirements.

Unplugging your campers so they can immerse themselves in the daily life, activities and setting reminds them of the fun of simply being outdoors and doing stuff that isn’t on a screen.

A break from technology will help children sleep better at night (despite anything they might tell you about needing to play games to sleep!) and this can only enhance everyone’s camp experience.

Encourage them to practice turning off their devices well before bedtime and putting them in another room at least in the week prior to camp so this routine is established beforehand.  

All camps and campers are different, but with a little planning ahead you can help yours be an experience to remember, with lots of newfound skills and independence.