Camp is over and I am choking back the tears. Why am I crying, you may ask or some of you may think, what type of parent am I? Aren’t I excited to see my camper? Of course, I am excited and of course, I missed him all summer. But each summer when camp ends, is one summer less for my children to be just that – children. Each summer that passes, means one less summer for them to smile, laugh, grow and learn in an unplugged world. I know this – how? I have seen children start camp at the young age of 7 or 8. I have seen children grow into preteens and not have to deal with the awkward middle school moments during the summer. I have seen teens be able to feel safe and happy with their camp family and temporarily escape the overwhelming stress and pressure they feel all year. I have also seen my own children mold and shape new campers as their counselors. Don’t think that being a counselor for the summer is the easy way out. Far from it, it’s hard work, but the rewards include maturity, personal relationships, time management, conflict resolution and so much more. If you think there is joy in seeing your happy camper, there is another sense of joy and pride when you see happy campers looking up to your happy counselor. But like everything else in life, all good things come to an end. So why am I crying? Because I don’t want any of this to end and the end of each summer means we are all getting closer to the end of this stage.
As a summer camp and program advisor, I am constantly being asked whether a specific program will look good on a teen’s resume, or if a specific camp will improve their camper’s athletic or artistic skills. As a parent of 3 teens, I am beginning to realize that these manipulated experiences are only part of the picture. Let’s take a step back and really think about what we want for our children – health, happiness and success. As parents we put so much pressure on ourselves to help our children achieve all these goals. When I think back to my children’s path to happiness and success, I have to admit, I didn’t do it alone. I probably didn’t do most of it – camp did! Camp gives my children the chance to be independent, problem solve, form true personal relationships and all these things create happiness and I hope down the road, success. Don’t believe me? Read this article with quotes from Steve Jobs, head staff at Harvard and MIT, as well as well known authors:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/05/09/can-sleep-away-camp-give-kids-a-competitive-advantage-in-life/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a44dcc820e69
Are you thinking about your child leaving for overnight camp? Whether they are first time campers or they’ve attended for many years, you’re likely to miss them more than they will miss you. Here are some fun ideas to keep connected with your camper throughout the summer.
Start a fictitious newspaper from home that journals fake news. For instance, report on the royal wedding but replace Meghan Markle’s face with their favorite teacher and make up a crazy story about the nuptials and how the gym teacher flew to the palace and started a brawl with Prince Harry. Or find a picture of Beyonce on stage and paste a picture of you and your spouse cutting loose on stage with her. My brother-in-law would send these to his kids every summer. After dropping his daughter off at the airport, he actually ran into Selena Gomez and sent a photo of the two of them together. The kids thought it was fake news the whole summer!
This tradition will keep your camper laughing and is a huge bonus if they are feeling homesick (not to mention their cabin mates will think you’re really cool).