Most camps are starting in about 59 days. The kids are starting to get excited/nervous while they watch their parents scramble around with the list of items needed for camp. The duffle bags have been purchased; the permanent markers are ready to get used to label EVERYTHING IN SIGHT! One room is devoted to stockpiling — 7 pairs of shorts, 14 t-shirts, collapsible cup, undies, socks, and on and on……
The reality of a summer away, especially for first time camper, is most certainly a bit rattling to the whole family. So how to handle everyone’s jitters, while still trying to control your own? First and foremost, know that you have made a fabulous choice in deciding to send your child to camp. But you really need to control yourself. So here are the top 5 things to NOT say to your child before they leave:
5. I’ll finally have some peace and quiet around here. Although it may be what you are thinking on the inside, do not let those words come out of your mouth in front of the children. It is most certainly good for children and parents to get a break from each other, but little ears will interpret that statement as “they want to get rid of me because…. I’m a problem, I’m in the way, I’m no good….”.
4. Now I’ll be able to spend more time with your “sibling”. One on one time with your children is great. BUT NEVER UTTER THOSE WORDS IN FRONT OF THE KIDS! The child going away will panic that they are going to miss out on something and homesickness will most certainly present itself. The younger one will either begin to brag or be set up for future failure in going away.
3. I am going to miss you so much I don’t know what I’ll do. Get over it and get a life. You are giving the greatest gift to your child — independence. Now be productive with the time you get as an adult. The best way to teach your children how to be independent and productive in the world is to model this behavior. Preferred statement… ”I am going to miss, but am so excited for what you will get to do at camp. I will keep busy and will be thrilled to see you at visiting day (or the end of camp) to hear about everything you experienced.”
2. If you don’t like it there, I’ll come and pick you up. NO!!!!! You didn’t just say that!!! You did your homework, selected a camp, bought into the idea of independent development and now you are handicapping your children?? NO!!! Know that homesickness does occur and overcoming it is the greatest achievement for a first time camper. Let it happen. Do not give your child an out. Teach them how to speak for themselves. Teach them good touch/bad touch, etc. But if you did your homework, then be part of the team and Let Them Go!!
1. I can’t wait to go to the beach, go to Europe, go on the boat, see your cousins/grandparents, go out to dinner without you…… It’s one thing to let your child know that you will stay busy while they are away, but it is quite another to list the many wonderful things you’ll be doing. They may have very mixed emotions about going away, and if you list all the things they will miss by not being around, you are setting your child up for failure.
So… keep the focus on your departing child, the excitement of meeting new friends in a beautiful place, and how successful they will be at their new summer home. Keep everything else to yourself. And if in fact, they ask what you will do while they’re gone? Your one and only answer:
Karen Meister, in partnership with Joanne Paltrowitz, works with the international consulting firm, Camp Experts and Teen Summers. Feel free to contact Karen for complimentary assistance at Karen@CampExperts.com or 305.931.KiDS or 305.931.5437. Thousands of families have received confidential and complimentary guidance to select the best camp and teen programs from around the world. Karen is also the Founder of the LifeMeisters.