Can anyone out there believe that summertime is right around the corner? With the winter that many of us have had, it’s hard to even imagine the concept of sunny, warm days with green grass and birds chirping in the sky.
For this single mama, winter 2013-2014 has felt long, cold and never ending. I yearn for snow-free, wind-chill free days.
And guess what? My older daughter informed me just yesterday (with a great deal of excitement) that in just less than 15 weeks she would be leaving for sleep-away camp.
The mention of summer camp put a smile on my face because for me, Summer Camp brings back many wonderful memories.
I started my camp career when I was two and a half years old – at that time I was going to a day camp in Oceanside, New York with my older sister and older cousin. From there I continued to a day camp in Montreal, and then to a sleep-away camp in the Laurentian Mountains, where I spent 14 glorious summers. Summer Camp was always a place where I felt safe and happy. Sure there were moments of extreme homesickness at the beginning, but for the most part I was a true camper through and through. I loved learning new skills and trying out new activities.
Camp was a place where I met new friends, learned to pitch a tent and cook over a camp fire, experienced the thrill of completing many “lake swims”, had my first kiss, learned how to make macrame and gimp bracelets.
Camp for me was like a second home.
I now have 2 daughters, one of whom adores “all things CAMP” and counts the days throughout the year until she can leave for sleep-away camp – and the other who has not yet developed a true love of camp. In fact, my younger daughter is perfectly happy to spend her summers training for gymnastics, and staying close to home.
So, how does a Camp Loving Mother have two daughters who have such different feelings about summer camp? Do all kids like camp and need to learn to like camp? And should parents “force” their children to try summer camp in an attempt to get them to appreciate the benefits of camp?
So many questions, and the answers to them truly depend upon each child as an individual.
Camp, in my opinion, is a wonderful place for children to go in order to develop new skills, strengthen their social skills and gain some independence.
But what about the children who simply do not like camp? I really believe that there is room for all sorts of choices when it comes to summertime programming. For those of us who have sons and daughters who want to go to summer camp, we must help them to choose camps that are well suited to their needs and desires. Don’t just send your child to a camp that you heard was a good one. Research all of the options and ask lots of questions so that you end up making the proper match for your individual child. As for our sons and daughters who are resistant to camp or who choose not to go to camp, there are a multitude of other programs available for them. Again, parents need to sit down with their kids and find out what they are interested in doing. Then, get creative and find the best activities and programs that will satisfy yours and your child’s needs.
The thing is that while camp is a fantastic summer choice for some, it is not for everyone – and those children who opt not to go to camp should not be made to feel as though they are making the wrong choice.
And you know what? Some kids only become interested in trying out summer camp when they are in their teens. In the end, the best way to know if your child is ready and willing to go to summer camp is to get them involved in the planning process and to LISTEN to what they have to say. It’s as simple as that.
Let’s just hope that this long and tiresome winter ends and we begin to feel the rush of summer spirit.