The first day of camp is an emotionally driven day filled with bittersweet, mixed feelings. Excitement and anxiety are literally playing Tug of War in the stomach of almost every parent and camper.
The kids going off to day camp, that’s a big step—but the kids leaving for overnight camp—that’s hard core. I imagine it’s very similar to sending a kid off to college, but with bathing suits and Mad Libs. I also imagine that I, too, would feel my breakfast on its way up if I had to put my kid on a bus, kiss her good-bye and hope for the best.
But I don’t, because I’m at camp. So, while the parents who had to say good-bye are all sad and crying, I’m jumping up and down waiting for the busses to pull up and the kids to come piling out.
“Welcome to camp, yo!!!!
On one hand, I’m the last person any parent would want to listen to because how can I possibly understand what they’re going through? I’m still with my kids. I don’t have to let them go. I live at camp and when my kids are ready to go into cabins, I‘ll still be here. (Too bad for them!!)
On the other hand, I’m a good person to speak on the subject because I know what’s happening on the camp end. I know that it’s totally and completely normal for kids to feel homesick. (It’s actually the ones who don’t miss home that I worry about.)
The thing is, it’s OK to take a break from home. It’s good to change your scenery and lifestyle. It’s good to push yourself, try new things and meet new people. And, most importantly, it’s good to learn that you can have fun and enjoy what you’re doing WHILE still loving and missing the people you’re not with.
It just takes a minute or two to let go and give in.
I know it’s hard when you walk by your little boy’s room. I know you miss your little girl’s smile. There’s a void in your heart and in your home, I get that.
But they’re OK. The first few nights will be hard, for both of you, but in the end, it’s all going to be OK. Camp is a good thing. The fun, the action, the memories, the drama—it’s all at camp.
And camp isn’t just good for your kids, it’s good for you too. You get to do your summer thing, whatever that may be.
My summer thing is at camp because my husband is a camp director. He sleeps with his eyes open. I’m not kidding. I’m all “blah blah blah” thinking he’s paying attention to me, but really he’s asleep. I can’t get mad though because his job is stressful. Thankfully, he’s good behind the curtain, because I’m on the other side, the fun side.
And that’s lucky for you because over the years, I have learned a few things on that side that you might find beneficial:
If you are writing a letter to a new camper, try to refrain from letting him know what he’s missing at home. He’s at camp so the likelihood of you doing something more fun than what he’s doing is small, BUT just in case he’s feeling homesick, it’s best to leave any big plans out of your letters. Ask some questions instead:
–How are your counselors? Do they make you brush your teeth? Did anyone short sheet your bed?
–What activities did you sign up for? Arts and Crafts? Yoga? High Ropes Course? Trapeze? Water skiing? Archery? Archery seems cool! Maybe you’ll be on Game of Thrones one day!
–Are you in a bottom bunk? Topo bunk? Try not to fall out! (Don’t worry, he won’t fall out.)
–How’s the food? Do you get cake? I heard they have good onion rings there, watch out for Robyn.
Stuff like that.
Another thing I’d leave out if I had a new kid at camp is all the “I MISS YOU” stuff. I miss you so much, Daddy misses you, the dog…NO. All of that NO. Tell him that you are all BORED TO DEATH and you wish you were at camp learning to ride a horse, or stuffing your face with grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Lastly, as much as you will want to tell him them that you’re proud of him, try to wait until he gets home. I know it’s hard because you are so proud, but sometimes a line like that will backfire.
If, however, you have a kid who has been to camp before, and you know he’s adjusted, you can tell that kid how proud you are—but he probably won’t care. In fact, he might not even read your letter. The older kids are a whole different ballgame because no matter what you say, there’s a good chance you will get this in return:
Camp is all good things. It builds independence, self-reliance, tolerance and social skills. It’s great training for life. You wouldn’t have sent your kid if it wasn’t.
And before you know it, he’ll be home, counting the days until he gets to come back.
Thanks for being here!
Facebook : DimSumandDoughnuts