Sleepaway camps are special and unique environments away from the pressures that home, school and technology may bring. They provide a safe bubble where children can become more independent, confident, competent and resilient. I believe in camp and what it can do for a child’s development. In order to optimize this growth for all, I consult with camps, parents and children to help establish a healthy mindset for a successful summer.
We all want kids to have fun and be happy at camp. However, if the expectation is for them to be happy 100% of the time, we will all be let down. Let’s face it, when in your lives have you been consistently happy for seven weeks, four weeks, two weeks (or whatever duration your child is away)? No one goes through life feeling nothing but happiness. My goal as a therapist is to help people feel and tolerate a full range of emotions. My goal as a consultant to parents, campers and camps is similar: Help you and your child be prepared to experience a full range of feelings at camp and know that you (and they) can notice, sit with, and cope with the difficult ones. When children learn that they can be sad, frustrated, angry, jealous, etc. and their parent doesn’t have to swoop in and rescue them from that feeling,they become more confident and resilient.
Are you struggling with how to best prepare your child for sleepaway camp? (“Should I mention homesickness before she leaves for the summer? Should I tell him that he can come home early if he’s not happy?”) Are you filled with big emotions after receiving a homesick letter or hearing that your child is not in a cabin with his friends? I can help you explore your own thoughts and feelings about your child’s camp experience, provide support, and offer concrete tips to help you and your child prepare emotionally for the summer.
Is your child having worries about separating for the summer or concerns about returning for a second or third summer? Perhaps your child could benefit from learning some tips and strategies for managing feelings while he or she is away. I can meet with your child to explore these feelings and provide tools and strategies to help set them up for success.
Setting the tone of your program, its values, and your mission and having your camp families partner with you in those aims is essential for a successful summer. I offer consultation on mission statements, policies and other written documentation that camps send to incoming families. I can also help camp directors think through decisions that may seem like they don’t affect child development (like whether or not to post photos), but actually can have an impact on a child’s camp experience. I can also host webinars for camp families before, during, and after camp. I also offer staff training on promoting emotional well-being in children.