For most families, sending their child to camp will be a wonderful experience for both the camper and the parents, but for many parents this time away from their child will also be riddled with concerns about everything from if they are brushing their teeth to how they are being treated by the other campers to the care and supervision that they are receiving from staff. While most parents experience these and other concerns, some parents struggle more than others to adjust to the separation from their child. This increasingly common experience for parents has been coined “kidsickness” and for some families, it is even more difficult for parents to adjust to the weeks their child spends at camp than it is for the camper.
The American Camp Association has listed 5 tips that I think benefit all families as they prepare to send their child to camp:
Focus on the positive “Focus on what is so positive about the experience children will have at camp – the opportunity to have fun while developing social skills, building character and self-respect, spending time in nature, and participating in a community based on caring, fairness, citizenship, and trust.” – Peg L. Smith, ACA CEO
Remember that separation is natural and necessary “Remember your baby’s first crawl, the first time your child stepped onto a school bus, and his or her first overnight with a friend or relative. These memories are all important developmental phases you and your child successfully navigated. Each successful separation gives your child confidence for the next challenge. Recognize and expect success.” – Peg L. Smith, ACA CEO
You’ve taught them well “Trust that the connection you have with your child doesn’t break or evaporate when you are physically apart. Everything you have taught them is there. Having anxiety or sadness about seeing them off is entirely reasonable and understandable. How can you love your kids and not have some feelings like these? Yet, one of the most valuable lessons we as adults can model for our children is that even in the face of our feelings, no matter how strong, we do what is best.” – Bob Ditter, family therapist
This is vital preparation “As our children prepare to eventually leave home permanently, the camp experience will instill independence through summers of fun while helping them acquire skills and assets that will serve them throughout their lives.” – Peg L. Smith, ACA CEO
Share what you are feeling “Talk with a friend or spouse. What are you feeling? What was the reason for sending your child to camp in the first place? Having an outside perspective can help us look more evenly at our own.” – Bob Ditter, family therapist