So it’s “T” minus 6 days and counting!!  I’ve seen a number of “Hey Parents!!  Tag!!!  You’re it!  Love The Teacher” comments flying around social media during the last couple of weeks.  Teachers (and I was one) are counting down the days with breathless anticipation!  I’m sure parents are too but for a different reason.

With the summer fast approaching parents are trying to find as many ways of occupying their children’s time as possible.  Many children are already signed up for a variety of activities.  If you have never considered sending your child to a residential camp here are some good reasons why it’s a wonderful idea.

Kids are more resilient than you think!  To be honest, the vast majority of them don’t even seem to notice that their parents have been removed from the family equation. They do just fine without parents hovering and reminding them to slather on the sunscreen or to eat all their veggies or no dessert!  Actually they are more than just fine; they have a blast!!  My own twin nephews came to camp for 2 weeks when they were 8.  A first-time experience.  After the first week my sister came to the rodeo and as she held out her arms when they came running, they blew right on by with a “Hi Mom, bye Mom!”.   She looked up with tears in her eyes and I said, “They still love you.  They are just busy and have things to do and places to go.”

“Summer camp is a special type of community where kids come together to have fun. Within the camp setting, children develop a sense of independence as they try new adventures away from home. They take part in activities that may be new to them and so they learn new skills and develop new abilities.  They may have to overcome obstacles and work at it to get their voice herd but every small step means growth in self-esteem and well-being.” (taken from Google – Why summer camp is so important)

It’s good for your child(ren) to develop a little independence.  It’s terrific that parents can do so much for their offspring but one of the greatest things you can do is give them wings and let them fly.  They will have to take responsibility for their own actions and decisions. They will have to decide what to wear each day, ensure they eat well so they have energy for the day’s activities and keep their bunk area neat and tidy. Camp gives them ownership of themselves.  It doesn’t matter how old they are, they become responsible for everything they do and they can really be themselves at camp.  Most parents have been to teacher/parent interviews and you wonder who the teacher is talking about because it certainly doesn’t sound like your child!  Overnight camp gives them some time to grow a little into the “Who” they are going to become without wondering what their parents are thinking or are going to say.  A little time apart is a good thing!  Hopefully, this new self- independence will be a part of them when they go back home and you won’t have to keep reminding them to wash their face, brush their teeth, make their bed and tidy their room, etc.!

Having fun with their peers develops a sense of belonging. Children bond with their cabin-mates on tasks, chores and activities and feel included.  Some camp friendships last a lifetime! And, of course, Summer Camp activities are designed to encourage campers (and staff) to work together so that they can achieve a common goal.  These are part of life’s important lessons that will help them grow and mature.

Of course, some get homesick BUT most battle it (with help from their counsellor and Ranch staff) and they emerge victorious and with tools to help them in similar situations.  If you send them with “hidden” cell phones (because cell phones are not allowed at camp) and tell them to call you when they’re alone or if you set them up for failure because you tell them they are going to miss you and feel sick and to call you and so on you are actually doing more harm than good.  (Here’s a link I’ve shared before from Hannah, who was then 13 and very wise! )  On the other hand, some kids experience being “camp-sick”.  See the picture in this post  –  self-explanatory!!

Summer camps are well known for providing a safe environment.  Staff always considers the safety of everyone involved.  We want children to become more self-confident as they try new activities and learn new skills.  This will happen if they feel safe.

And, of course, we know that a week away from home can help your child appreciate all those little things you do! Everything from having a fridge full of their favourite meals and snacks, to taking a shower or bath when they want, to having their own room, to having Mom or Dad drive them to and from activities, Hopefully they will have a better appreciation of everything that you, as parents, do for them each and every day!