(End) Worried about camp? Explore together and find landmarks

My four-year-old asks, “Can I walk alone to Daddy?” We play a game in the caravan, the youngest is taking an afternoon nap. My husband watches Formula 1 in the central square of the camp site.

My son looks at me with wide eyes. “I can do it on my own. Really mom, I know the way.” I doubt it: it’s not far, but the camp supermarket, which can get very crowded, is just up the road. He can turn left and walk towards the pond. And the Spanish camp site where we are now is not full of Dutch, people mainly speak French and Spanish.

On the other hand, we have walked the road together countless times. As said: not far. I put on his bracelet with his name and phone number on it and he texted my husband that he was coming.

He kicks off with a carton of apple juice. In the end he looks back again. I’m directed. And wait. It takes me a long time to get a message from my husband that he is in his sight. Or is it not so bad? How many minutes has he gone now? Then I get a picture. His head protrudes above the staircase leading to the square. he’s there.

Two girls crying

My husband and I talk regularly this holiday about how much freedom our son gets at camp. What is reasonable now? And what if it gets lost? It happened to my neighbor’s four year old daughter last year. Together with a friend they wanted to walk to the toilet. It was close: turn left at the corner twice and there you were.

The girls went for a walk together. Only they didn’t go left twice, but left and then right. They have lost their way. A little later, the father found two crying girls at the end of the road.

“It’s annoying when girls get lost, but it’s good when the children themselves signal that they are ready for the next step,” says educational teacher Ingeborg Dijkstra. “Especially when there are two of them, you can give them that confidence.”

According to Dijkstra, as a parent, you can confide in your child and give them space with clear agreements. Clear agreement is, for example, demarcation of where the child can go. “For example, you could say, ‘You can go to the end of the trail, but not around the corner.’ Or: Even a red picnic table,” says Dykstra.

Experiment with limits

Exploration helps when you arrive in a strange place. This goes for children of all ages. Take a tour of the playgrounds together and look for landmarks: the ping-pong tables, the ice cream stand, the playground. Say things like: ‘Here we can get ice cream sometime or here you can play ping pong.’ Then see what the real border area is. “

If during the holidays the kids indicate that they want to go on, you can try this limit. “With each successful experience you can see if both parent and child are ready to take a step forward.”

And if things go wrong and your child is lost? And then you find out—after all that panic: Maybe that was too far. Remember, 99.9 percent of all children who are lost come back. A situation like 9-year-old Gino’s kidnapping is the worst thing you can do to a parent, but it really is an exception, That is why it is widely covered in the media.”

According to Dijkstra, at the campsite you can also count on the social control of the neighbors. They often know very well which child belongs where. “Other people in the camp are usually willing to help a crying baby. In addition, the campsite is often demarcated with a fence and barrier, and the baby doesn’t just leave the camp.”

Bracelet and emergency whistle

According to Dijkstra, if things go wrong, it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. “Discussing this experience with your child can be very helpful. You can ask: What could you have done when you found out you were lost? Could you go back to a point where you recognized? Or to a place where there are other people you could have asked to contact your parents.” .

Discuss with your child in advance what could happen. “Not knowing where you have been for a while or losing your parents is more real than being kidnapped. It’s a good idea to discuss what the child should do: go back to a place where there are more people, show your bracelet, and blow the emergency whistle.”

When are you a rambunctious, over-the-top parent and when do you give them so much freedom? “Of course you can get restless as parents, especially with water and young children. This is dangerous. Take demarcation away from the water,” Dijkstra advises. If you are standing at a river, say, for example: “You can go to the green caravan, but not the other way around.”

If as a parent you notice that you constantly want to be in control of your child’s situation and that you feel fear in your body and think a lot about doomsday scenarios, then according to Dijkstra you are on the side of excessive anxiety.

Giving your child too much freedom is also not good. For example, if you say: “Now you can walk to the toilet yourself now.” Or: “This is the stadium, I’ll pick you up in half an hour.” “It can really scare kids. It’s better if the child points out their own boundaries and you, as a parent, don’t cross them.”

Forget about time

The watch is fun for kids who are starting to watch the watch. Especially if you can set the timer. “Then you can agree: report every half hour. And if all goes well: walk every hour. Or: when it’s ten o’clock in the morning, come to the tent. Children often forget what time they play, which is why the timer on the watch is useful.” You can also bring an old phone and set a timer.”

You can put an SOS bracelet on young children with their name and phone number. Dijkstra does not recommend using a GPS tracker. “Parents sometimes let children go beyond where they are standing because they think ‘I know where he is.’ But it is best to expand the areas gradually or lengthen the time. You can work this out with your child.

What age can do what?

How far each child can go depends, of course, on the age and on the child himself. One child is independent from a young age and you can easily make agreements with him, and another child of the same age has a lesser sense of responsibility. With that said, there are some general guidelines:

  • 1-3 years: Young children are always supervised by their parents or guardians. They are too young to be able to estimate or supervise risks. Educational Ingeborg Dijkstra: “A play tent can be useful for this age group. You can put it in your camping spot with young children and a little farther away with a 3-year-old, with the opening in sight.” This way, the kids still have their own place and close at hand: at the end of the day, all the buckets and buckets can be tucked away in the tent.
  • 4-5 years: At this age, you can make agreements with your child. Depending on the independence of the child, you can agree on the areas where the child is allowed to go. “Children often don’t know their parents’ phone number by heart, so an SOS bracelet comes in handy. When they’re ready, they can walk short paths on their own, like a toilet block or an ice cream stand near you. Do this. Always walk with your child first.”
  • From 6 years: From the age of six, most children are more able to play independently. But here too: See what your child can handle, walk together ways to walk together to where they can go, and in the meantime, give advice like: If you get a splinter on your finger, step back and I’ll remove it. With kids who can tell the time It is useful to make time agreements, such as: a report every half hour.

Leave a Comment