Advice for First-Time Campers

And how Will Shelton, Camp Director, prepares his own first-time camper for summer camp

Guest post by Will Shelton,
Camp Director

Read Time 2 minutes

Dear Camp Families, 

We hope you are just as excited as we are for summer at Tanadoona! The warm sun, hikes through the woods, frog-catching in the wetlands, mud puddles from summer showers, mastering the agility course and so much more with counselors from around the world — summer is here!

As I begin my 28th summer in camping (a journey from camper to staff to director across 4 states) I am excited to do something I have never done at camp: I get to be a parent of a camper! Our 5 year-old daughter, Charlie, starts as a day camper this summer. We are so excited for the opportunity, nervous about how she’ll react and behave in a new environment, and hopeful for the positive outcomes on her life.

Every year we get similar questions from parents and guardians about how to prepare their kids for their first summer camp experience: Will they make friends? Be bullied? Feel lonely? And how can we help them get ready before going to camp?


Being in the unique position of parent/director, I’m taking the advice I’ve given other parents for years to help make Charlie’s first time at camp a success. I have seen over the years just how summer camp can build empathy, independence and spark something new in campers. Being part of a community and engaging in new activities and experiences is FUN, of course, but it is also influential beyond summer camp.

With that in mind, we’re preparing Charlie for camp by focusing on how she can positively contribute to her new camp community.