Is Eight Too Young To Go Away To Camp?

Iona jpgGot a question for you, cos I’m not quite sure what I think myself and would love to canvas opinions.

I’ve just booked Ms8 on a Sport and Rec camp in January, it’s a Monday-Friday residential camp. She’s going with one of her bestest pals who is a year older.

There are heaps of camps for kids all over NSW, most are residential but some are day camps. Read more on the Dept of Sport and Recreation site here. 

On her camp, Ms8 will do abseiling, high ropes course, bushwalking, kayaking and more. She is giddy with excitement at the thought of going with her friend. Mr8 might go too, but he’s hoping to find a friend to join him.

When I emailed around his classmates, all the mums thought their children were too young. And they have a point.

Eight years old is pretty young to go away for four nights to be looked after by total strangers, experts yes, but strangers.

Now bear in mind that my twins have teenage brothers and are pretty independent. Also, the big boys went to a Sport and Rec rugby league camp when they were about 13 and 11 , I think, and they did the day camps at Narrabeen sports centre for years – these were excellent.

But still… eight is pretty young.

I guess I have voted with my credit card by booking her onto the camp. It’s for kids aged 7 – 11 years, so there will probably be kids younger than her. And she will be happy, I’m sure of that.

But just like when I saw Teen17 and Teen 15 disappearing underwater with their scuba kit on on the Great Barrier Reef. I know I’m taking a chance. I’m letting them run free and just hoping that all will be well.

Motherhood is a long, slow process of holding close then letting go.

What do you think?

Would you let your son or daughter go to camp aged only eight?

Should I? 


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  1. says: Sue Cutbill

    As a cub leader we take cubs away for a week for an event called cuboree – kids aged between 7.5 and 10 years – the camp I would think would be geared up to support kids that age.

  2. I have such fond memories of those Sport and Rec camps; my Nanna used to take all her grandkids to the family camps (Amazing huh?)
    I think you know if your daughter is ready. You’re not sending her across the country. Worse case scenario, you can got and fetch her! Best case scenario, she creates lifelong memories and gains independence and confidence. xx

  3. says: Robyn

    That’s a tough one, but I think only you know how your child will cope and you have to go with your instincts. What works for some kids at each age group doesn’t for others. My Mr 8 would LOVE to do all the activities but unless he was with a very good friend I’m not sure he’s do too well with the sleepovers. Saying that I am planning on sending him to Melbourne in the next school holidays unaccompanied to stay with the cousin for a couple of nights and he’s very excited x

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Ah yes, it’s exciting to start planning for these long school holidays. Ms8 has been on sleepovers a fair bit and it’s great that her friend is a year older.

  4. I have to say it’s a tricky one.
    Your daughter is excited and that’s a good thing. Maybe consider how far away the camp is if it all gets a bit too much and be prepared that youmay just have to go and collect her early.

    However as I always say you know your child best and know what’s best for them.
    Good luck!

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Luckily it’s not too far. I’ve arranged to drive the girls up then they’ll get the train back to Sydney. They will be going on school camp to the same place later in the year so she’ll be totally cool for that as she’ll know the place.

  5. I think she will be fine on camp. The fact that she is giddy with excitement is a good indication. Being away from mum and dad is such an adventure at that age. We are moving to VIC and discover their school camps begin very early unlike here in NSW

    1. says: Seana Smith

      I’m very encouraged by the comments on the post… and try to follow the kids lead in terms of independence, which I am ALL FOR… I need as many breaks as I can get.

  6. says: Belinda Baker

    I grew up going on those camps! I cant remember what age I was, maybe 8, maybe a year or so older, but I loved them! She will have an absolute blast. The fact that she is going with a bestie will help if there is any homesickness and all the staff were really fantastic. I have many fond memories of all the activities we used to do, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, overnight tenting, bmx riding, archery, etc. As you said, the staff are experts and will get in touch woth you if they feel it is warranted. But on all of my camps, which would be close to 20 at least, I cant remember anyone having to go home because of homesickness.

    1. says: Seana Smith

      I am thrilled to hear from you Belinda, thanks so much for writing to let me know of your happy experiences. Fantastic!!

  7. I’m really thinking you wouldn’t have even considered it, if you didn’t think she was ready Seana. We tend to know what our kids can handle.
    Bell went on her first school camp when she was 9, and had the most amazing time.
    And if she’s with her friend, even more exciting!! x

    1. says: Seana Smith

      I did stop and pause when my friend, her pal’s mum, suggested it… then the two girls were so keen, I thought – just leap. So was a bit surprised at the reaction of the mums of my son’s friends and thought… hmmm…. But you are right, we do know our own kids, and I will definitely not be booking in Mr8 unless he is as keen as his sister, he’s a more delicate flower, that boy.

  8. They have such strict rules and regulations now I’m sure she’ll be safe Seana. I took two classes of nine year olds on school camp and there was only one girl who cried with home sickness and just between you and me she was a bit of a sook which your little girl doesn’t sound at all. Big brothers tend to knock the sook out of little sisters 🙂

    1. says: Seana Smith

      You are so right, she has to be as tough as old boots with the giant teens around as well as her wild twin brother. She’s a lively wee soul, and yes, rules are very tight these days. That’s good!

  9. I’m sure it partly depends on the child. If your child is keen to go and responsible enough to listen to directions etc at 8, then why not? I have a 7 (nearly 8) year old and I can see a huge variety of maturity levels amongst her peers. As you say, there are experts there to care for the kids. I hope she has a ball!

    1. says: Seana Smith

      My wee lass is sleeping over with her bestest pal tonight and I know they will be fine together… and her twin brother… I think we will have to wait and see…. he’s not keen at all to go alone and is asking his friends to persuade their mums to let them go with him… we’ll see how it all pans out for him.

  10. The camp sounds a lot of fun! I am putting myself in your 8 y/o’s shoes and remembering how I was when I was 8. While my mother wouldn’t have let me go then, I certainly would have loved to I think it’s a good decision. Not only will she have lots of fun with the activities , she will make new friends, be more independent, etc. I’m excited for her ! 🙂

  11. says: Lisa Wood

    Its hard to say what age is right for a camp that last four days – each child is different. I would happily send my third son who is 15 and my fourth son who is 12 but I wouldn’t send my youngest who is 9 – only because of his personality.
    Our youngest son is a “Free Spirited Child” and he wonders off so easily – I wouldn’t want to put that responsibility on another parent/teacher/carer. He hasn’t even stayed with his Grandparents by himself because of his free spirit, he stayed with one of his brothers who kept an eye on him and gave him tips on where to go and where not to go.
    I think that your daughter will be fine because she has older siblings to look up to as a example. I think a parent knows within if a Child is ready for camp or not 🙂

  12. says: Grace

    Yes, for me I would think 8 is too young too but well, I can’t ever see myself letting go of my 4 year olds! I guess it’s all those “adventurous” activities that would worry me and the thought of leaving them with strangers. I’m sure she’ll have a fantastic time and like you said, it’s a long process of letting go.
    Look forward to hearing the update!

  13. I was a latch key kid at eight. I think parents need to get over themselves and let their kids take a few more risks. The chances of anything going ass end up are minimal and the learning experience will be fabulous.

    I love the new layout and it loaded faster this time so must have been my connection last time.

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