“I’m Not Ready to Send Her to Camp!”
The recruiting season is always a wonderful time for us camp directors to meet great parents and their children. But it can be disappointing to hear from parents who seem reluctant to embrace the camp experience as an opportunity for their children to grow in independence, confidence and character. Here are some of the responses some parents share when describing their concerns about sending their child to camp and some of our thoughts.
“But, I’m not ready to send her to camp!”
Few, if any parents are ever ready to send their children away from them. Caring parents love their children and enjoy being with them (even when they suggest otherwise!), but sometimes the hesitation can be misguided. As WeHaKee directors, we have yet to meet any parents that are truly comfortable with the idea of sending their children away to our camp for 2, 4 or 6 weeks. But, yet they do!
Why do parents send their children away to camp:
- They know that the Camp WeHaKee experience is a significantly unique, yet critical experience for their child’s development.
- They know WeHaKee will be a safe and supportive community for their child.
- Their child will be cared for and nurtured by sensitive and skilled WeHaKee staff.
- WeHaKee will be fun and motivating for their child. They recognize that what she achieves developmentally at camp, cannot be replicated at home by them or by anyone else.
So, with a lump in the throat, a tug at the heart and maybe even a tear in the eye, each summer parents actively choose to send their children to WeHaKee Camp for Girls because they know it is the right thing to do.
“Why would I want to send her away?”
To send a child away from home for an extended period can seem uncaring or even mean, but the camp experience is one of the most loving and caring things a parent can offer a child. What does the WeHaKee experience offer?
- The opportunity for parents to empower their child to enhance her sense of independence and grow in self-confidence.
- The chance to discover and pursue a wide array of interests as she samples the many activities WeHaKee has to offer.
- Support and encouragement as she adjusts to the temporary separation from her parents.
- Camp counselors who are trained and skilled in helping her enhance her social skills and relationship building techniques.
- Caring and fun role models who display strong moral character through their words and actions.
“I can’t be there for her!”
That is true, a parent cannot be physically there for her temporarily while she is at camp. But one should consider this, an independent experience at WeHaKee offers each camper…
- Opportunities to succeed on her own without the direct support of a parent.
- An exceptional and safe place for her to engage in healthy and positive risk taking. Risk taking is a natural element of youth development and studies consistently show that those who participate in positive risk taking (like those offered at WeHaKee) are significantly less likely to engage in dangerous risk taking behavior such as alcohol and drug abuse.
“She’ll be too homesick!”
Most children experience some form of missing home while away at camp – it is only natural! Michael Thompson, noted psychologist and author of the book Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow, discusses and provides a multitude of examples where children have experienced mild to severe homesickness, but in overcoming it at camp, they grow in remarkable and life changing ways. The sense of accomplishment a child experineces in overcoming homesick feelings is extremely empowering.
Homesickness should not be feared because…
- It is a natural feeling most campers experience at some point while at camp.
- With the sense of belonging nurtured by the WeHaKee community, nearly all campers will overcome homesick feelings within a day or so.
- Homesickness, when dealt with properly does not cause emotional scares.
- When a child overcomes her homesick feelings she achieves a significant sense of accomplishment.
- Parents can do many positive things prior to her camp arrival to help reduce potential for homesick feelings occuring at camp.
- AND… Parents can do many positive things prior to her departure to help parents reduce their sad feelings of missing their child!
It is only natural that a parent may not be 100% ready to send their children off to camp, but keep in mind that it is about the child’s developmental needs and all that camp can do to meet those needs. And it is a process – as a parent observes her grow and mature through her camp experiences, the parent will grow in confidence that they are making the right choice for her!