You know I love to share fashion delimas with you guys, but I also love to share my little life struggles as well. Who knows if I’m a fashion blogger, a mom blogger, or a lifestyle blogger- I’m just being me! Anyway, recently my youngest son has been very apprehensive about going to the sleep away summer camp his brother attends and LOVES. One of my main goals as a mom is to not pass on my own issues and insecurities to my kids. I know that this is practically impossible, but I’m trying desperately to do things differently than my mom did. So full disclaimer, I hated sleep away summer camp! HATED IT! There are a variety of reasons that could have been behind why I hated summer camp (who knows), but I don’t want my own experience with summer camp to keep my apprehensive son from giving it a fair shot. So, I reached out to Camp Ozark (the camp my older son went to and LOVED) to see if they could give me some tips. I loved their ideas and have found them really helpful, so I had to share.
Here’s what I found most helpful:
1. Express your excitement– “First, it’s always good to express your own excitement (and their siblings’ excitement) for them to experience camp. (If you are nervous, don’t share it with your camper.)” Eeeeeek, I totally faked it with my first one because I was sooooo nervous, and he LOVED it. Now I’ve gotta fake it with my apprehensive second son even more -ha!
2. Get them excited– “I think it is great to go through all the activities with them… You can go through the MAP with them and you can find the activities on the website or in the catalogue, or watch the DVD! You can start by making a list for them to check off when they try the new things at camp they are looking forward to!” I put the camp DVD in our car player, and they’ve been watching it a ton. I think watching the DVD has been a turning point for my apprehensive son. It got him super excited. My youngest has started to ask my oldest a whole bunch of questions based on the DVD. He’s now most excited about going to the camp store!
3. Get them familiar and comfortable with camp– If available,” take them to a camper show where they get to meet the staff! Have them make a list of questions, and the staff members can sit there and answer each and every one of them! That way when they get to camp, there will be a familiar face or two. Individualized schedules, unique activities and store choices really help each child gain self-confidence and grow in independence by making safe, independent decisions in a controlled environment. Encourage kids to find 2-3 activities that they can’t wait to do or have never done before and help them set goals to achieve for the time they are at camp.” My boys could not wait to pick out their 3 activities for camp. I capitalized on their excitement and let them look through all the videos on the website to see which ones they were most excited about! We signed up right then and there!
4. “Remind them that you are confident that they will THRIVE at camp, not just SURVIVE. Make sure they know that they will have staff members that live in the cabin with them that are literally there to serve them and make sure they are having a great time. Tell them that there are top staff and camp moms that will check in on them daily. Tell them that you will write them and make sure brother and sister or grandma/grandpa send them emails, or even better care packages!” He can thrive, not just survive! This has been my own mental mantra when I’m talking to him about camp. Ok, I’ve kinda told it to myself on some gloomy days, too. Ha! Why just survive life when we can thrive?!
I reached out to them again because I kept getting stumped when my son would say, “But I’m going to miss you, Mom and Dad.” Can y’all tell I need a little hand holding? Ha! I loved her answer!
“These are words that provide so much validation for parents in that they are doing a good job. It can also sometimes cause trepidation in our children in experiencing new adventures (especially fun ones like camp)! So how do you respond? That’s a tough one. Every parent is a unique parent with unique children and unique parenting styles. The parent knows their child better than anyone and knows how best to respond. Some parents respond to that with a simple “You’ve got this!” (because the child does!) and you know, in the end, this is such an important milestone for them to experience on their own! Other parents might respond with much more explanation and affection “We are going to miss you too. We love you and would never put you in a situation we didn’t think would be an incomparable life changing experience for you. We will be so excited to hear all about it in letters or on Closing Day and be scouring the pictures daily to see your smiling face!” Other parents who have children who are more visual might go through the day with the child, if that child is an information seeker. That parent might start with the catalog and camp website and go through the pictures. Start with the daily schedule and then move to the structure of the cabin and where they will be eating and sleeping and then who they can tell or where to go if they are really missing mom and/or dad.
Maybe something like this: The camp day is jam packed with fun (from the time they wake up to the time until their head hits the pillow) so there really isn’t a lot of time to actually miss mom and dad! There will be 2-3 counselors in the cabin who will be there to help have the greatest time at camp! Counselors are a great resource for encouragement and to be there when your camper tries new things. We also have a great camp mom program (former staff who are now moms). They are available for any extra needed encouragement and can always check in on the child. Let your camper know how you plan on communicating with them while they are at camp (utilizing the one way email delivery system, sending them mail through USPS, or sending them a care package). We make campers write you at least one postcard, but you can encourage them to write you a recap letter about their day as if you were talking after school.)
No matter the child, no matter the parenting technique, it all works well! The camp experience is just that- an experience. A place you have picked out for them to have an incomparable 1 or 2 weeks! A place to try new things, to gain independence, to enjoy their favorite activities, to make new friends, and to just have some good old fashioned fun!
They are going to have a blast and you will too! The key is to set the stage for them to succeed and share with them your excitement and confidence in them to do just that!”
I hope y’all found this information as helpful as I did! A very special thanks to Camp Ozark for helping this mama and answering all my questions!
The picture is of my oldest son and niece on closing day of Camp Ozark 2017.