Resilience, self-confidence and s’mores
Build a partnership with the camp to make sure your child gets the most out of their summer
Karen Provost & Melissa Mason
Independence, self-confidence and resilience are all hot topics in the world of child development today. According to research by the American Camp Association, a positive camp experience can help a child become more independent and responsible, develop greater confidence, and grow resilient in addition to learning leadership, social and communication skills, and all while having fun.
What can parents do to ensure their child derives the maximum benefit from their camp experience? View the camp as a partner that will help your child learn valuable life skills. A strong camp and parent partnership includes open communication, mutual understanding and support of policies.
Here are suggestions for building a strong partnership with your child’s camp:
Get to know your camp and camp director
- Take a tour of the camp and meet the director who is responsible for providing a supervised, safe environment and caring role models. It is easier to visualize activities there if you have seen the place beforehand.
- Read the camp brochure, parent handbook, website, newsletter and any other information about the camp and make sure the camp answers your questions.
- Participate in activities if offered by the camp. These may include family nights, camping weekends, and other events where families can become part of the camp community. This is also often an opportunity to meet staff members who work directly with your camper.
- Provide information about your camper that will be helpful to the staff who are working with them. Parents sometimes withhold information for fear their child will be treated differently. In reality, having the knowledge helps the camp professionals ensure a successful experience for each camper.
- Provide feedback. Do not wait to contact the director if something needs to be improved to enhance the camp experience. The director and staff appreciate hearing positive feedback, too.
- Find out how the camp plans to communicate with parents. This may include a Facebook page, weekly/daily newsletters, emails, posted signs, flyers, parent notes and more. Camps will usually have different methods for routine and emergency communication.
- Your camper will become more responsible if they help prepare. Most camps will provide a packing list and ask that all items brought to camp be labeled with a child’s name. When the camper packs their own bag, it is easier for them to know what they have, and they are more likely to bring everything home. Name labels help when there are many similar items.
- Review the camp values, rules and consequences with your camper. Behavior improves when campers know what to expect, understand the consequences and know their parents support the rules.
- Share the camp schedule with your camper. They will be more excited when they know what to expect. Help them understand that sometimes the schedule will change. This help builds resilience and avoid disappointment.
Camp directors and the staff will provide the s’mores and activities for a fun and memorable summer that will make lasting memories and produce stronger, more caring and resilient children. Parents are encouraged to build a strong partnership with the camp for the best outcome.
Karen Provost is the director of Camp Halfmoon/YMCA Allard Center and Melissa Mason is the director of Camp Pa-Gon-Ki/YMCA of Greater Londonderry.