This coming summer (2014) will be my 21st summer in girls overnight camping. I have a very different outlook on the world, family and what is important in my life now versus 21 years ago. Sleep-away summer camp has had more impact on the person I am today than any other facet of my life.
One of the things I have seen eroding in recent years is “belief”. I’m not talking about belief in the theological sense. I’m talking about parents not believing in their children.
At least weekly I have a conversation which goes something like this:
Parent: “We watched your DVD and love your camp! We would like to enroll our daughter and have her and a friend whom is also attending in the same bunk.”
Jim: “It is our policy at Fernwood Cove not to bunk home-friends together.”
Parent: “My daughter won’t know anyone! She will never go for this!”
Jim: “Please speak to your daughter about our policy and give me a call back.”
Obviously this is an abbreviated version of the conversation; however nine times out of ten, the parent calls me back with something like this:
Parent: I spoke with my daughter and she doesn’t mind (surprisingly) being placed in a bunk where she won’t know anyone!
Jim: “Welcome to Fernwood Cove!”
In this case, the parent was the one worried about their child not knowing anyone – while the child was confident in herself and her ability to cope.
I feel as parents, we need to believe in our children when they are faced with new challenges. We need to be confident they will be successful. When they do fall/fail (which is OK) we are there to dust them off, love them, and encourage them to try again. It’s what parents do.
Otherwise what we’re really saying is, “I don’t believe you can do this. I don’t have confidence in your ability to cope or handle new and different situations.”
Parents often pass their anxiety and fears onto their children through their well intentioned “smoothing-the-way.”
How many of you have worried about: who your daughter will sit with on the bus; who will be in her bunk; homesickness; organizing a play date with other campers just so she knows someone?
The above topics, as well as any other areas of concern, should all be talked over and considered with your child. When speaking about any concern – be confident – believe in your child’s ability to handle the challenge. Talk about positive outcomes. “It’s OK if you are homesick – your counselor will be there for you and teach you skills to help deal with the feelings of missing home. You will use these skills the rest of your life!”
Camp is set up for your daughter to be successful, not just at camp, but in life – remember this.
When discussing camp with your child please… please be sure worries are that of your child’s and not your own. If you have a concern – call me.
A successful camp experience starts at home – with you. Your daughter is coming to camp – be excited, optimistic and proud that your daughter is taking the lead in finding her independence and self-reliance. Camp is an extraordinary experience which will provide a lifetime of friends, skills and influence the person she will become. Celebrate her soon-to-be adventure – she is going to remember this for the rest of her life!
I hope I have given you a look into what you should expect – after all it’s the unknown which scares us most.
In closing know this: we have never lost a potential camper to concerns or worries a parent has had prior to or during camp. We have however, lost a few potential camp parents. Please share our commitment and believe in your daughter – she can do it!
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful new tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (2-7 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 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.