Q: My 10 year old is going to sleep away camp next month for the first time. He is very excited, but I am very nervous! He will be at camp for 3 weeks and during that time we will have no contact with him, other than letter writing (which I doubt he will do!) How will I know if he is having a good time and how can I stop being so nervous?
A: Going to sleep away camp is a big deal! Your son has every right to be excited! Camp can be a wonderful place. I spent most of my childhood summers at a phenomenal camp in the NC mountains. I made some lifelong friends (my best friend- I met there!), created incredible memories, but I can assure you I didn’t write many letters home. I was too busy doing!
Many years later I was on the other side of the camp adventure. My children were headed off and I was the one with the nervous feeling! My children were the third generation in my family to go to this camp and I was still nervous! Why? Because I want the very best for my children and the outcome of their camp experience was out of my control- for the most part. I wrote them letters (and received a few hastily scribbled lines) and was excited for their adventures!
Many camps have daily blogs and post daily photos on their websites. (These photos should not be public. You should get a private access code.) But don’t spend too much time analyzing photos of your child. (Didn’t he wear that shirt yesterday? He is wearing a sweatshirt, maybe he is getting sick.) Just enjoy the tiny glimpse at your son’s adventure. Also, don’t panic if you don’t see a photo of your child EVERY day. He is still having fun, but it is an almost insurmountable task to get a photo of EVERY child EVERY day.
If you have reached your wits end and really must have reassurance that your son is doing well, call the camp. Not your child- the camp. You can leave a message and the appropriate staff member should give you a call back. Unless it is a true emergency, do not expect to speak with your child. Let the camp staff member handle the communication. It is their job and speaking with your child might trigger homesickness- even in a child who isn’t homesick before the phone call!
I’m sure you have done your research before selecting your son’s camp. Feel confident in your selection! Tuck your nervousness aside and feel confident. Your confidence is contagious. And so is your son’s enthusiasm! Get excited! Sleep away camp may be some of your son’s favorite childhood memories!