Looking back over the past couple months, it’s easy to remember all the fun our Maine campers had and all the fabulous things that they did at their camps. The letters, phone calls and photos we were privy to gave us what we thought was a great window into camp life. When they arrive home, however, we often see all the good times, activities, trips and friendships in a different way: though the eyes of our children. We get a fresh understanding of what happened during those weeks of camp in the ways that they act, the things that they do, the words that they say, and the emotions that they feel.
When our kids rush off the bus, off the plane, or into a car if pick up is directly at camp, we may be surprised that these very same kids we sent to camp are taller and older looking; they will probably have longer hair. Big smiles might be plastered across their faces, tears might be flowing, or both. Some kids can’t wait to get home to their siblings, their pets and their rooms, while others are hysterical and need to be physically peeled off their camp best friends from whom they now must separate. These emotions might even be unexpectedly surprising; not what we are used to from the kids we thought we knew so well. Some kids will chatter away about every camp detail until they are hoarse, although many will be hoarse when you first see them, from all that went on the last few days at camp. Others may be silently reflecting, wishing they were back in Maine. They may spend time alone in their room going through camp pics to make a collage or montage, or reread their bus notes from their camp friends and counselors. You may be confused at their behavior, but it all makes sense: they are leaving one home and returning to another, and they are likely experiencing a rush of emotions as this happens.
A lot of things will be different at home for your kids when they enter the door. Days of the week might have a different meaning for them for a while. Is it really Monday if it’s not Olympics? What’s Friday without the weekly campfire? Is it even Sunday if it’s not a day to “sleep in” and have a special breakfast? The “home” friends your kids couldn’t bear to leave back in June might, if even for a little while, may be taking a back seat to “camp” friends who are fresher in their minds. Camp friendships are different than home friendships. They are 24/7, and more intense in many ways. The strength of the home friendships will resume eventually, but that might take a few hours, days or weeks. If your kids seem sad and you wonder why, remember that they may be “campsick.” In that case, think about how wonderful it is that they miss camp: they might miss their camp relationships, the structure of camp activities; or even the activities themselves. And if they didn’t love camp so much, they wouldn’t be so sad now. When they hear a song that reminds them of camp and are disappointed that no one in the house understands why, it just means that the memories they have from camp are enduring, just as the friendships are.
While your children might seem different or more grown up now, this is to be embraced. They have learned and changed so much since they last left home! Some changes will melt your heart. If your kids attend the same camp, the bond between them may have deepened, especially if one of them was a first-time camper this summer. They may sing songs together you’ve never heard before, play a new sport together, or have jokes and a language all their own; they will talk about people you don’t know, all from a world that you’re not a part of. Just sit back and enjoy these moments; after all, this is what you sent them to camp for: to grow and to have experiences all their own, that are separate from yours. If you’re lucky, your kids may help around the house more, having taken on such responsibilities at camp this summer. If you’re not so lucky, they might just help less, happy to be relieved of such tasks if only for a short while. After enjoying a new kind of independence at camp, your kids may be more willing to venture out of their comfort zone, both emotionally and physically. There’s a good chance they will want to do more and think more on their own; they have been without parents for a month or two and have learned to be independent in a way that you’re not used to. For all of these reasons, homecoming is a great opportunity to appreciate the new and improved people you are welcoming back into your house.
As the weeks go on and “home” life resumes it’s usual and often frenetic pace, it’s important to recognize that camp is never forgotten, it’s just a bit more in the background than it was when our campers first arrived home. Their new skills and independence won’t stand out as much as they did in August, the camp friendships and memories will endure, and in 10 more months, they’ll get to do it all again.
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge®, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.