Summer camp provides children with the opportunity to play and romp around in a safe environment away from Mom and Dad. And, it gives Mom and Dad a much-needed vacation (think: date night every night)! Knowing that they are in a safe place may lessen your need to constantly communicate with them, but your kids may need that connection to home just as much as you need the connection to them! Here are some healthy ways to keep up communication for the week(s) they are away.
Write letters. There is something truly special about the worn paper and handwritten words of love. Most summer camps have policies that do not allow cell phones or other technologies. Your kids are at camp to enjoy the outdoors, hold a salamander and zoom down a zipline, not scroll through a screen. Write as often or as little as you want; campers usually have mail call once each day. Talk about the normal and boring things Mom and Dad have been doing, stuff that won’t make him homesick. Give him a connection to home that will still make him want to stay at camp. Also use letters to help your younger kids cope. They might need a few days to adjust to camp life, and often times the first letter home is full of pleas to come pick them up. Don’t make promises such as, “Stick it out for a few more days. If you still don’t like it, we’ll pick you up.” Instead, support his efforts to adjust by reminding him how much you love him and are excited for all the new experiences and friends he’ll have! Don’t feel guilty about “making” your homesick child stay at camp. Counselors are trained to spot fleeting homesickness or something deeper; if the problem persists, the counselors will be in contact with you to adjust the situation!
Bunk1: This service allows parents a one-way view into the camp world. You can send emails, which will be printed and given to campers, and view photos to stay completely up-to-date on all of their daily activities. You can even send puzzles like Sudoku! Tons of camps use Bunk1, and parents are given log-in information when they register or arrive at camp! Check it out here.
Care packages: A great way to ensure that your kids still remember you exist is by sending them a care package full of goodies: magazines, bubbles, puzzles, comic books. Some directors and counselors advise against sending snacks, but that should be up to your discretion! Campers receive three meals a day, and cooks are well-versed in the picky eater department. Always tell your camper to share his goodies with other kids in his cabin; other parents may not send care packages, and sharing is the name of the game at summer camp!
A tip to novice camp parents: send your first letter or package a day or two before your child is set to arrive, that way he will have something to open on the first or second day! This can help ease the transition much easier for first-time campers.
Sleep-away summer camps might be the first big step your kids take toward their independence. They’ll meet kids from all over the world, and expand their horizons in a secure realm. You’ll constantly miss them, but when you receive the letter describing how they stood on stage and rocked out in the camp band, you’ll realize just how beneficial this whole camp thing really is!