Believe it or not the start of first session is less than 100 days away, which seems both very soon and very far away.
Alli Faricy recently spent a week in Portland, OR at the American Camp Association national conference connecting with other camp directors and industry professionals. The question that was on everyone’s minds – how can we help the kids?
We are in a unique educational position. We only get to see campers for three weeks a year, yet those three weeks can often be very impactful in the development of a kid. We have an opportunity to help bridge the gap of social and educational learning (a gap that has been more pronounced in the last two years) while being under the cape of “fun”. A couple things resonated for Alli at the conference that she wanted to share with you AND how we can partner with you as parents to continue the growth of kids while they are at camp (while having fun of course).
- Social deconditioning
- Developmental divergence
- Increased mental health vigilance
Now, it is easy to look at that list and think – Doom! Gloom! The kids are in trouble! But I look at it a little differently and hope that you will partner with us as we prepare to welcome your kids to camp to emphasize the opportunities for growth and the skills they have actually GAINED over the last couple years.
The social lives for kids the last two years have been tough – but camp…camp is built in, 100 percent, full on social time. In many ways we have to keep the reigns tight on this one to not overwhelm kids (and us). We have planned staff training to help staff see the signs of kids that need some time alone AND those that need help figuring out their peers.
What have your kids gotten really good at the last couple years? New hobbies? The ability to learn in new ways? A new closeness with their siblings? Parents? Family pet? We have questions that will be on the Camper Information Form (completed just before arrival) about what these new skills are and how we may be able to continue to develop them while at camp. Of course plenty of questions about how to help your kids with things they struggle with, too.
3. Increased mental health vigilance
There is research showing that kids (and parents) are more tuned in to their mental health than every before. They have better language, are more open to talk about how they are feeling, and are actively seeking mental health resources. We will continue to support this work by helping to schedule regular visits with campers’ therapists via phone or zoom and by utilizing our camper coordinators (all work in schools or further education) to reach out to parents with concerns prior to, during and after camp.