Sleep-Away Camp: One of the Greatest Gifts You Can Give Your Child & Yourself! by Christine Jones
Soon, we will once again send our boys, ages 16 and 10, off to sleep-away camp for seven weeks. The boys are beyond excited! And, like every year, when people ask what my kids are doing for the summer and I tell them that they're heading off for seven weeks, I’m met with shocked expressions and comments like, “Do you not like your kids?” and “Don’t you miss them?” Yes, people, I do. But parenting means raising kids that are ready to launch and that have the confidence to go out in the world; and that, frankly, is why my kids all start going to sleep-away camp at age 8. Here are just a few of the reasons why I feel camp is so important:
- Builds Resilience and Resourcefulness: Delaying homesickness is delaying adolescence. Kids need to learn to cope without the help of Mom and Dad. In today’s mobile phone world, we’re in constant contact with our kids. It’s critical to their maturity and development that they gain coping mechanisms to survive without us and the creature comforts of home. Learning to navigate friendships and disputes with peers without Mom and Dad is an important life skill. So is learning to sleep in a cabin with other kids without their plush down comforter and the AC blasting.
- Gives Them a Digital Detox: Sure, I love the fact that my 10-year-old will be off his iPad and his Xbox, but what I really appreciate is that my 16-year-old will be without his phone for seven weeks! In a world where kids feel a need to document every party, sporting event and experience, I love that he’s off the social media grid. Friendships at camp are built on shared experiences. They’re not being influenced by snaps, likes and emoticons.
- Allows Kids to Reinvent Themselves: Let's face it, all too often kids are bucketed as the "sporty" one or the "artsy" one. By going away to camp, kids can shed elements of their persona and work on new personality traits. A sporty kid at home can try pottery at camp, or an artistic kid can play football or try their hand at archery without fear of reprisal.
- Lets Parents Reconnect: With the craziness of the school year, travel sports, homework and dual working parents, it’s easy for us adults to make our whole world about the kids. Too often, the parental relationship is put on the back burner. While the kids are away, we can focus on our marriage and spend a few days away together, drink too much wine, spend lazy Sunday mornings in bed and just enjoy each other's company.
- Teaches Kids to Play Sports and Perform on Stage Without Hovering Parents: These days it seems to be a requirement for most parents to be standing on the sidelines relentlessly cheering little Stevie on at every game or to attend every performance. At camp, the only cheerleaders are other campers and counselors. Kids are free to score the winning goal, miss a point and forget their lines without their parents witnessing it as if it was a grand slam match or Oscar performance.
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