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.
What does visiting day mean to you? To me it means family. I look forward to this day so much every year. I love being at the camp that has brought all my children so much joy and growth. I love watching them in an unplugged environment and being witness to all the relationships they have formed with their peers, counselors, group leaders and even the directors.
First time for you? Here are some tips:
- Be organized – pack your things the night before. That includes snacks (please make sure you follow the “no nut” policy and also don’t overdo it). You don’t want your child to be sick after you leave or worse, living with rodents from all the food in the bunk
- Give yourself enough time to get there – you don’t want to stress out if there is a traffic problem.
- Be present – your child has been waiting for this day – sit with them, play with them and listen to them.
- Say “Thanks” – introduce yourself to their counselors and say thank you. A little kindness goes a long way. Don’t focus on the small complaints – this job is harder than you imagine, but it is also a personal one – so show them your appreciation by just saying “thanks”.
- Plan your exit – the end can become emotional. Shower your children with hugs and kisses and most importantly, positive reinforcement. Let them know how proud you are of them. If they are starting to quiver, remind them that it’s ok to miss you but have a good time simultaneously. Remember that shortly after you leave they will once again be engaged.
- Smile – these are good times and you should enjoy them! While you are smiling, take some pictures and send them to us or post them and tag @tipsontripsandcamp
I knew there would be benefits to sending my kids to overnight camp…try new things, make lifetime friends, grow to be independent to name a few. What I did not expect was that four years after my daughter attended her final year as a camper she would come back to become a counselor, and gain even more life skills.
What she learned that summer was nothing she could have learned as a college freshman in a classroom. The experience was invaluable – so much so that she accepted the position for a second summer. What about the great internship that she would need in in her chosen profession? What about summer school to get ahead in her major? Those things crossed her mind for about ten seconds when she realized the training she was getting as a counselor for whatever job she might have later on was just as, if not more than, valuable.