We’ve packed up the car, loaded their backpacks with snacks, driven to the bus, the airport or directly to camp and had our tearful goodbyes. Now what? Rush home and turn on the computer, of course. In the computer age, our children are never completely out of sight anymore. It is expected that camps provide some form of immediate gratification to satisfy parents’ curiosity. Beware, however, of the emotional trap these services provide.
Every summer I hear of parents who see pictures of their children at sleepaway camp who “look sad”, or a picture of a bunk that looks messy (as if they should always be as clean as they are on visiting day). Parents need to understand that the photographer is taking candid shots and there is no way to include the context of the pictures in the photo. Perhaps they just got through playing soccer and are tired or maybe they just sneezed.
My daughter just left on a community service trip to South America. I, like every other parent, want to know what she is doing at every moment. The occasional blog or email from the program provides exciting information and leaves me yearning for more! However, I know that the more time the program leaders are spent blogging, the less time they are engaged with the teenagers who are traveling.
I have come to realize over the 8 years that my children have been at overnight camp and now, with my daughter on her teen summer adventures, that, while the pictures, blogs and emails are exciting, nothing compares to the hours of conversation that we will have when they return. The personal experiences they share, camp songs they sing, photos they have taken themselves and the smiles on their faces are priceless.