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).
2017 was a year of delight
Let’s start with the end and our brand new website!
New Logo and colors but don’t you get nervous
Tips still gives the same high quality service
The graphics are bold; the photos are pretty
To find one of us, just click on our city
And you will not think it at all surprising
That Tips had a record year for advising
Parents have found it is beyond nice
For their child to get off his electronic device
Camp is a place where kids can just be
No texting, or snap chat, a place that’s screen free
In the age of facebook, insta and group text
Parents cannot keep up with what’s next
Summer’s a time to take a stress break
To breathe, relax and swim in a lake
And if you are looking to prevent your teen
From spending her summer in front of a screen
How about a specialty program for tennis or art?
You may ask, but how can I tell them apart?
That’s where us Tips advisors can help
We’re a way better source than google or yelp
So for now enjoy holidays with family and friends
And call one of us when 2017 ends
On all things summer, we have the scoop
So don’t be left out of the Tips on Trips loop
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I gave up on them decades ago. Instead, my kids will tell you that I am constantly lamenting a list of clichés throughout the year. They shake their heads as I yell things like, “Be in the moment” and “Don’t look back unless you want to go there.” As a parent, I feel it’s my role to deliver these friendly reminders. As teenagers, I realize it’s their right of passage to ridicule their mom.
As I reflect on my teenage years, I wish I had taken more opportunities. While we didn’t have the distractions of today’s technology, we certainly had other ways of wasting the day away. Their daily grind is hard so of course they want to take a load off and snapchat about who knows what (I certainly don’t J).
That’s one of the reasons I value the summer camps and teen travel experiences so much. And I know they do too. A lot of thought and research goes into their planning. It’s the chance to navigate without a GPS, explore a new culture and terrain, and engage in a new community. It’s a time to disconnect from technology and connect with the unknown. It’s a chance for them to build memories of a lifetime. I have one child who had the good fortune to travel to Japan last summer and the other will be off to Iceland this summer after 6 years at summer camps.
As they grow into adults, I feel that these will be summer opportunities will help shape them. While their school year, their education, their friends, and their home life carry a lot of weight, the experiences outside their comfort zone can change their trajectory. I hope they celebrate each year, seize every moment and, like me, toss out New Year’s resolutions.
There are so many things I love about Thanksgiving. I love searching for new recipes, I love the cooking and the smells in the kitchen. I love watching my boys play football and watch football with their dad, uncles and cousins.
This year I am experiencing a new tradition. My oldest son is returning from college for his Thanksgiving break. The excitement in the house is at a new level. For any moms out there who have had their home change when a child leaves for school, you know how I feel.
It’s also an exciting time for my work – I help families find summer camps and teen programs. This is the time of the year when all new programs are finalized. New destinations, classes and adventures. So even though it may be cold outside, summer is never too far away.
One of most popular camp activities is cooking – kids of all ages love to go to cooking. Sometimes it is for a reprieve from the sun and sometimes it is just the thought of having a yummy treat in the middle of the day.
So in the spirit of keeping a little summer in your life all year long, here is one of my favorite dessert recipes – it’s easy and delicious. Enjoy it with your kids this holiday.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread a bag of chocolate chips in the bottom of a glass baking dish.
Arrange 1 bag of large marshmallows on top.
Bake in the preheated oven until chocolate softens and marshmallows are golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Let dip cool, about 5 minutes.
Serve with graham crackers for dipping
Eve sat down to discuss the benefits of summer camps and programs for children today, advice for parents and how Tips on Trips and Camps can help you find the right program for your child. Click to listen!
Whether your child is spending a few weeks or the entire summer away from home, parents can experience a little anxiety sometimes called Empty Nest Syndrome. Regardless if children are 8 or 18, it is hard to say goodbye. However, a summer separated from your children is a great opportunity for you to have a few weeks of “me” time!
With no kids in the house, or maybe fewer kids in the house, this is a great time for parents to enjoy a break. Here are ways to make the summer go by quickly and have fun:
- Pick up a hobby. Ever thought about learning to knit? Have a bike collecting dust in the garage? Now is the time to start something new! Whether it’s a group activity or solo, you can impress your kids with something you learned during the summer.
- Take a trip. While the kids are off having an adventure, why not do something exciting for yourself? Travel, or have a “staycation”, for a week or a weekend – somewhere you always wanted to go but knew the kids wouldn’t enjoy.
- Take a summer course. Community colleges offer great courses for the summer that will help improve your skills and knowledge. Sometimes these courses can improve your job situation too! It will even help you revisit what college is like now in preparation for when your kids get to that age.
- Enjoy the moment. Remember to pause for a second and embrace the quiet. It’s rare with children but it is a great reminder that you’ve given your child a memory they’ll have forever.
- Tackle those chores that never seem to get done – cleaning closets and donating old clothing is always my favorite.
- If you have other children at home, use this opportunity to have more “one-on-one” time with them. They will appreciate every minute. Include them in some of your adventures so they can share stories just like their siblings.
- If you have no other children at home, this could be a great time to reconnect with your spouse or partner. There is never enough time for this!
Keep in mind the summer is a lot shorter than you think. Once your children return home, you will remember these few weeks with fondness and longing. As you return to carpools and cell phone messages, you too will start dreaming about summer 2016!
As I prepare my oldest son for graduation from high school and the transition to college, I am not worried that he will be one of the many freshman students who have difficulty with leaving home. Years of traditional summer camps, wilderness/adventure and travel have given him so much confidence in himself and his ability to face new environments with excitement, instead of trepidation. I have no doubt that he will do just fine socially. My fear instead, is that he will do too well socially, and not concentrate on his academics. Admit it – we all have that fear.
In my job as a Camp Advisor, I see it over and over again – the separation anxiety – but usually it is the parents’ anxiety. Often when I meet parents who are interested in sending their kids away for the first time, they admit to me that they are the ones who are not ready to let go. They would prefer one week of camp instead of three or six weeks. In truth, one week is never enough for the child who has barely learned where the dining hall and bathrooms are, before having to go home. They don’t get the opportunity to make as good friends in a week as they would life long friends in the course of a summer.
I applaud parents for knowing there is value in summer camp and teen programs and I understand the financial constraints that are put on families. They are giving their children many gifts with the gift of camp. Parents are giving children self-confidence and often opportunities to explore their personalities and abilities. The children get to find out more about themselves (likes and dislikes, talents, passions) away from the kids they have known their whole lives who have preconceived notions of who they are and where they fit in. Teens can explore career options on college campuses and get a feel for what it would be like in the next phase of their lives. They can taste the freedom of living in a dorm, but the parents have the benefit of knowing their children are well supervised by the program’s staff and counselors. They can master a language and gain confidence in being able to travel to exotic places. For example, learning to take a subway in Paris or order off a menu in China is an experience that builds confidence.
So as summer looms in the not too distant future, consider what would benefit your child the most. Push them to push their limits and stretch out of their comfort zone. Let them explore a passion and see if it is all it is cracked up to be. There is value in finding out that they don’t love a career as much as they thought they would. It might save years of education and training in the wrong direction.
This is the time of year, that parents are finalizing their teen’s summer tours/trips. We, as parents get so wrapped up in the details, that sometimes we forget about the big picture.
For instance, if your teen is going on a community service trip, it should be more about expanding their horizons, rather than logging in their required hours. Nothing can compare to visiting new places, meeting new people and gaining a better understanding of another culture.
A language immersion program is not only good for enhancing their language skills or prepping for the upcoming school year, but it builds confidence in your teen inherently by being in an atmosphere where they have to learn as they go along.
A precollege program can look good on a teen’s resume, but they also walk away with a new sense of responsibility and maybe even more appreciation for all you do at home.
A teen tour seems like all fun and games, but along the way, they learn how to get along with all types of teens, and can sometimes be put in a position where they need to resolve conflicts and learn the art of compromise.
To summarize, you should expect your teen to have fun, accomplish a goal, but most importantly build character and come home a better version of the teen they were when they left.