Dealing with Summer Camp Anxiety: Help for Children (and Apprehensive Parents)

It’s summer, and many parents are sending their children off to camp for a few weeks of swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, and singing songs by the campfire. The excitement, however, is oftentimes mixed with anxiety – especially for a child who is leaving home for the first time. It can be stressful to leave home for an extended period of time, even for children who are excited about going away to camp.

According to Pew Research Center, almost 30% of girls and 20% of boys (roughly 6.3 million teens) have an anxiety problem severe enough to hamper their day-to-day function. And, the number of major depressive episodes among 12 to 17-year-olds has increased by 50% in the last decade. In addition to these daily stressors, many children and adolescents are still dealing with the heightened anxiety and depression they’ve felt from the COVID-19 pandemic, so the emotions of being away from home may be even more complex for them this year.

Managing Anxiety: Tips For Kids (and their Parents)

There are strategies you can use to help calm a child’s pre-camp anxiety. The Child Mind Institute has published a helpful list of 13 Tips for Helping Anxious Kids Enjoy Summer Camp, which also includes suggestions for anxious parents. Another great resource for parents who may be feeling nervous or reluctant to send their child away to a camp can be found here.

While many children are able to attend a more “mainstream” camp, it is important to find a camp that is right for children if they are dealing with a behavioral health issue. It’s important that parents carefully research what each camp offers to help them find a program that will meet their child’s specific needs. Parents should openly share their child’s mental health concerns so the camp counselors are prepared to recognize warning signs, and minimize or prevent potential problems on their child’s behalf. If your child has an active mental health treatment plan, make sure that is shared with the camp psychologist so therapy can continue during the camp without interruption.


There are a multitude of choices for camps that are designed for children who have special behavioral health needs. Not sure how to pick the right camp for your child? Here’s a great resource to help you get started. 

Check out these helpful links to find camps that are tailored to meet the needs of kids with autism, ADHD, OCD and anxiety. Just be sure to confirm the camps are still open due to ongoing COVID concerns.

Summer Camps for Kids with ADHD 

The Complete ADHD Camp Guide 

100 Great Summer Autism Camps 

OCD Summer Programs & Camps

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and/or Anxiety 

Summer Camps for Kids with Special Needs

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