Parenting: Hello Muddah! Hello Fadduh!
July 14, 2011 (WPVI) -- It's been quiet at our house for the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, I dropped my two younger sons, 15-year-old Billy and 10-year-old Micah, off at overnight camp. It's their second summer at this particular camp. Billy will stay for four weeks, and then come home in time for the football pre-season. Micah is staying eight weeks. All three of my boys began attending overnight camp after completing third grade. I spent seven summers at overnight camp myself.
Some of my friends say they can't imagine allowing their children to leave home for such long time periods at such young ages. But I feel the independence the boys develop, the friendships they make, and the positive religious and spiritual lessons they learn (the camp is affiliated with our synagogue) are invaluable. My late mother felt the same way. She took a job as an overnight camp registrar so that my brothers could attend, even when money was tight. A study of more than 5000 families whose children attend camps found: Parents, camp staff, and children reported significant growth in:
The findings from this national study indicated that camp is a unique educational institution and a positive force in youth development. The camp experience can benefit children by increasing:
Of course, homesickness can be an issue when kids leave home, especially that first summer. But in my experience, bouts of homesickness don't last very long. In fact, by the time the homesick letter reaches Mom and Dad, most of the time, the camper has forgotten all about it. As for my sons, they're not big letter writers. Billy has written NO letters home (unless you count a Facebook message I got while he was on a field trip this week, asking for a new laundry bag, mirror and more hair gel). Micah has written twice. The first letter said, "Dear Mom, Dad, and Jason, Camp is fun. My sunglasses got stepped on and broke. Hope all is well. Love, Mikey." The second letter said, "Dear Family, Camp is really fun. Hope all is well. Love, Mikey."
Not exactly a lot of detail. But I think that's fine. Those letters tell me that Micah is so busy having fun, he doesn't have a lot of time to sit around and write. And thankfully, the camp has a website that publishes photos every day. I've seen both boys smiling, with their arms around their friends. Micah has played roller hockey (I didn't even know he knew how to skate!) and gone to Dorney Park. Billy has played his guitar, gone swimming, and - apparently - spent some time with some lovely new female friends. Ahem!
If you're considering sending your child to overnight camp next summer, now's a great time to do research. There are camps for just about every interest, from sports to broadcasting to spa services or computers. It's also a great idea to find out if the camp you're thinking about has any Open House days this summer. You can go with your child and get a real feel for the camp, its facilities, and its activities. And your child will be a lot less apprehensive next summer, when he or she sees how much fun this summer's kids are having.
It's also important to make sure that the camp is accredited. The American Camp Association has great resources on its website.
And one more tips for parents whose kids are at camp: Enjoy this time! They'll be home before you know it!
amy buckman parenting reports, parenting, amy buckman
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