Have you seen the meme defining a “coronacoaster” – the ups and downs of living in a pandemic? I don’t know about you, but that perfectly captures me and my wildly shifting emotions. Interestingly I’m finding my kids are more even keel than I am. They’re teenagers, and like everyone’s children, they had to abandon their spring and summer plans. I’ve found them to be resilient, creative, and accepting in the faces of the losses they have sustained. As we head towards the fall, and all the uncertainty that brings, they are saying they will be OK no matter what. While a lot of their reactions have to do with their personalities, I can also see that the lessons learned at sleepaway camps and teen programs helped prepare them for this tough time. They are making the best of what the world has to offer and still having fun. They’ve found new ways to meet their goals, follow their interests, and enjoy the summer, all while staying safe. I can connect all the ways they’ve managed during the pandemic to things that a child may navigate away at camp or on a teen trip. The coronacoaster is not my cup of tea, but as it’s the only attraction open this summer, I’m going to do my best to notice the best parts of the ride.
A recent Forbes article discussed how overnight camps do a great job teaching kids the soft skills they need to flourish as adults. Sleepaway camp is a multi-layered experience that prepares children for college and beyond.
Teamwork, conflict resolution, problem-solving, leadership and communication skills, resilience, decision-making, empathy, and friendship building are just some of the ways children can grow when children attend camp. Each camp day provides so many opportunities for growth – setting a goal, learning a new skill, trying a new activity, navigating friendships, being a team captain, earning a reward for a job well done, comforting a bunkmate, completing a chore, and more.
I see how sleepaway camp helped with the development of soft-skills in my own house. Once our children have exposure to all these skills at camp, then it’s easy for us to continue herding them toward independence when they return home. My oldest child started college this fall, and he has done a great job transitioning to an independent life. From self-care to advocating for himself, I can see how his camp experience provided a kind and stable base for him to learn and try out all the skills he needs to create a joyful and purposeful life. I am thankful for his camp experiences and it is part of the reason I enjoy helping other families find the best camps and programs for their children. Please let us know how we can help your family.
It’s that time of year again–the consultants at Tips on Trips and Camps are very busy helping families with overnight summer camp options. We’re also busy planning and preparing to host our annual Summer Opportunity Camp Fairs around the country.
Our camp fairs are a great way for families to look around and get a feel for what’s out there. Not only are families exposed to a wide range of summer program choices, they can speak with representatives or directors of the camps and programs they are interested in. This provides a certain comfort level that many families need before making a decision on a summer program for their child or teen.
One advantage of a Tips on Trips and Camps Summer Opportunities Fair is the personal touch that is available. Tips on Trips consultants are on hand to talk to families, listen to their needs, and direct them to suitable summer programs.
Having a camp advisor to help you with the ins and outs of finding a perfect summer experience for your child is essential, yet not many parents realize that this free service provided by Tips on Trips and Camps is available to them! Your camp advisor will listen to your needs, and help you to find programs that your child is interested in. Whether it be a summer arts program, a language immersion camp, a science focused program, an internship or community service project, a sports camp, a traditional co-ed camp or an all-girl or all-boy camp, the choices are many and your personal advisor will help you to narrow down the search. Your advisor will help you to distinguish between programs and help you to understand the particular culture of a program. An Internet search is great, but it’s difficult to determine the true culture of a camp by looking at a website. A Tips consultant has visited the programs, met the directors, and has an un-biased view. Your personal advisor will take you and your child’s needs into consideration first and foremost.
If summer camp in 2013 is an option for your child this year, don’t delay…call your Tips on Trips camp advisor today!
Here’s how to apply what they learned at camp to life at home.
Did your child attend a sports camp? Dance camp? Theater camp? Traditional Camp? No matter what kind of camp your child attended, they learned important new skills that can be applied to their every day life.
At every summer camp your child learned how to make their own bed and can continue to do that at home. Teenagers on adventure trips or enrichment programs or a language immersion experience did chores that helped the group. Ask them about the chore wheel and see if there are cabin upkeep activities that can translate to your family. Perhaps help setting table and cleaning up after meals, taking out the trash or recycling or picking up their room.
On most summer trips for teens the kids take turns cooking. Ask your teenager to prepare their favorite meal for the family. Some went to cooking programs, let them show off their new found skills.
When teens attend an enrichment program on a college campus or other travel program they are responsible for doing their own laundry. They can continue to do this at home especially on school holidays or on weekends. This is great practice for college. Younger kids had their clean laundry returned to them and they put it away in their quarters. Now ask them to be responsible for putting away their clean laundry at home.
When your child is on a summer program they rely on their own resources to solve problems. Continue to encourage your child to be independent and not ask Mom and Dad to fix the challenges they encounter. Tell them you have confidence that they can come up with a solution and step back. After all, part of what we all hope that our kids learn from a summer experience is how to be self reliant. Take advantage of what they learned and build on those skills in their every day school and family life.
“I had such a great summer at camp! I love my bunk! Best time ever! Please, please, please drive me to the reunion ? I just have to go- EVERYONE will be there.”
Which turns into, ” I have to go back- EVERYONE is going back. I will do anything. I know you have to pay for my CIT year.”
Followed by, ”This is the last year I can go back before I need to start work!”
Summer searches start out innocently by trying to find that perfect summer program for your child. What you may not realize or project is that the summer environment has the potential to have life long influences.
The culture of any summer environment, regardless of its location (camp, on a mountain top or college campus), is dictated by the values and style of the director. It trickles from the top down: from director to staff to support staff to the children. The experience just doesn’t happen. Any program takes months and years to get it right. To massage it and fine tweak it, takes, time, energy, passion and commitment.
I have lived by the values of my camp director. I am privileged to have had wonderful parents with great ethics – he was just a bonus with tremendous impact! He taught us how to communicate with children differently – not through commands, but through reason and discussion. “That towel is making it difficult to walk through the bunk – someone may trip and get hurt.” As opposed to” Pick up the @#*_ towel! ” He taught us how to be open to learning and self-growth. He taught us that there are second chances when you own up to mistakes and are humble. He taught us that kindness and positive energy go a lot farther than negativity and being inconsiderate. . Our motto- Values =choices=consequences. I could go on, but my point is that the culture and expectations he created for staff, was in turn, created for the children . YOUR children, who take those values home, to school. to college, to work and to their families.
Take the time to speak with the camp director of the program you are considering. Know what they represent. Make your own connection and don’t rely on the opinion or hearsay of others.
This March I will travel to celebrate my director’s 70th birthday. I value his wisdom and friendship, my choice, is to attend his celebration, and the consequence will be a great time with my camp family.
Ann Kramer Fuchs – A camper at heart, Ann has been a consultant with Tips on Trips and Camps in Westchester County, NY for the past eleven years. She has been involved in the camping industry for 41 years as a Camp Director, Athletic Director, Wilderness Trip Leader and counselor.
Should parents choose a camp that focuses on teaching hard skills (tennis, dance, gymnastics, and leadership) that will help our children become high achievers? Or should camp be the place for a child to learn independence, self-confidence and a love of nature in a rustic setting unlike home. Short session camps tend to be single focus and teach hard skills. Traditional sleep away camps with longer sessions offer the opportunity to be part of a caring community that offers friendship and teamwork along with diverse outdoor activities. No matter whether you choose a one week specialty camp or a longer session traditional camp, be sure you understand the different experience that is offered. Mary Beth McCauley has a wonderful article in the Christian Science Monitor that really conveys the true benefits of the sleep away camp experience.
“Sure, there are other places where young people can learn the stout virtues of confidence, teamwork, and resilience; of independence and friendship; of love of nature. But few disguise the lessons quite the way summer camp does – as pure fun”……
“Real” camp, its advocates say, may at some time involve the perfection of a plié or a jump shot, but that’s not the point. The point is the change in a child who hunkers down for a week’s worth of rainy nights outdoors, followed by singing for the entire dining hall despite paralyzing stage fright, all the while making his bed unreminded and growing to appreciate bugs, if not bug juice.”
Read the full article to understand the differences in specialty camps and traditional camps. Think about how your child can get the most benefit from summer time. I will be happy to chat with you about which type of camp is the best fit for your child.
Have you noticed how much adults love talking about their summer camp experiences and how it affected their lives? I am a camp advisor who helps families find the best sleep away camp for their child. As I speak with parents, they fondly remember their own overnight camp experiences and love to reminisce. While on a radio talk show, a caller said she became the person she is at camp. At a dinner party, I once spoke to two senior citizens who had met at summer camp, become friends and practiced law together for 45 years. One of my tennis partners came to the US on a teen study abroad program as a 16 year old. Many years later he returned as the Ambassador from his country to the United States. Who will ever forget color war, the last night of camp or camp songs we sang? Former campers love to know that their camp still exists and that current campers feel as sentimental as they did. Summer camps and teen experiences may not be the typical Washington political discussion but it is something everyone loves to talk about. Share with us your memories about a summer camp or teen travel experience.