I recently stumbled across a very interesting article . The title: “Hummingbird Parents”. In the article, provides seven ways a parent can let their child have independent play – outside – and still feel in control and aware of their child’s needs.
I fully recommend reading the entire article, but I want to address some actions the article mentions specifically.
Action 1: Take your kids outdoors
Anyone would agree that most children today do not spend as much time outdoors as children used to. Bike races around the neighborhood, exploring the woods for hours on end and disappearing into a neighbors house for a snack just don’t happen as often as they used to. To this, Louv says, “If we want our children or grandchildren to experience nature, we’ll need to be more proactive than parents of past generations.” It’s not up to the kids to get out of the house because often it’s not their choice. Parents must be committed to introducing their child to nature. This brings me to the second action…
Action 2: Be a hummingbird parent
We hear the term “helicopter parent” all the time, which may be why children don’t experience the outdoors as much. Parents are worried about their child disappearing into the woods for hours without checking in. Sometimes it’s easier parking a child in front of a screen because there they are safe, under the watchful eye of a parent or trusted supervisor. Louv encourages parents to take Michele Whitaker‘s approach of being a “hummingbird parent.” The idea is that parents can supervise their children – from a distance. Let them make their own experiences and “zoom in” when safety is a concern. This takes the hovering out of parenting.
How this fits into camp
As camp professionals, we hear all the time about the fears a parent may have about sending their child away for weeks at a time. Will they wear sunscreen? Who are the counselors watching my child? Will their allergies be an issue? All of these fears are understandable. We think summer camp is the perfect opportunity for parents to practice being “hummingbird parents.”
When a parent decides to send their child to camp, they are deliberately sending their children outside to experience nature. After researching the right camp, parents can send their children off feeling confident that their child will be well cared for while they are away. Parents can zoom in by sending mail (and requesting mail back) or calling to speak to a camp administrator with concerns. It’s hard for a parent to hover when their child is away being independent. This allows children to grow and investigate on their own. Sure, they may fall or fail a few times but that builds grit.