Wow have we been busy this past week! We had 14 intercamps and tournaments the past three days including our annual Climbing Invitational with nine other camps in attendance. It was non-stop action capped off by some flag football and basketball wins at Andro and Winnebago…a great Boys Tennis Tournament with seven visiting teams; an overtime under-9 girls 2-2 soccer tie vs. Vega; a 9-8 loss against Caribou in boys U-12 lacrosse….and much, much more. Overnight camping trips are going out almost every day taking campers to the most beautiful state and National Parks in Maine. Yesterday was our first rocket launch of the summer where campers who worked hard the last few weeks building and designing model rockets blasted them into the Maine sky. Last night was the annual Five-Year-Club trip where campers who have been at camp for five or more years received personalized t-shirts (lime green this year) and a trip to the movies. Today is our annual Traditions Day featuring the Bec Swim, Bago Sprint, Baxter Car Wash, Super Senior Campfire and so much more. The Laurel Spirit lives on!
What an amazing first week of camp! Laurel is in full swing with tons of fun activities happening every day. Last night was the first Sports Night of the season with Bago Football, Bec Soccer, Baxter Hoops, Sequoia Hockey and Apache Wiffle Ball all happening at once. Intercamps also kicked off yesterday with a U-13 boys soccer tournament at Laurel and a U-15 girls soccer tournament at Wekeela…we should have some incredible teams this summer! Last night was the annual Talent Show where some of our campers get to perform in front of the entire camp. Today is the first S-Day and we kick it off with a bang with The Quest. We’ll divide the camp into 18 teams that compete in various games and activities. The winning team gets a Chinese Dinner at Allliquippa. Good luck to the Super Seniors who get to have their first leadership experience of the summer as Quest captains. We can’t wait for Sunday’s Fourth of July Fireworks!!
I don’t know about you, but my kids are constantly plugged into something, whether they are texting their friends (does anyone talk anymore?), bopping along to Lady Gaga’s latest, updating their Facebook status, researching a school project online and creating a multi-media presentation, or playing games on my iPhone while I desperately try to finish a conversation at the vet’s office.
Some days I can win a battle or two (no texting at dinner!) but the war is ongoing. And honestly, I’m not the best example. That iPhone I mentioned is never far from reach, and right now I’m surfing online, listening to my own brand of pop music, answering text messages as they come in and writing this blog.
Don’t you wish there was a place where we could all live life unplugged? We adults may not be so lucky; but for our kids, that place is summer camp.
Knowing that someone out there is cultivating a culture of back-to-basics, low-tech life is an irresistible draw for me as a parent. My husband and I love the outdoors and frequently take our kids on short camping trips, but these offer only a short break from the world of “screen time”. Monday morning comes and before the sleeping bags air out, we’re all rushing to see what awaits us in our email inboxes.
As a mom, I worry about the long-term effects of all of these tech ways of communicating. I’m not alone. Several studies have suggested that kids who spend too much time plugged in lose some skills for interpersonal interaction. Let’s fight back.
At camp, social interaction is done the old fashioned way – face-to-face. Campers and counselors alike leave their cell phones at home and get back to a simpler life, when there is an art to conversation. If you were a camper, think back to your best memories. All of mine involve revolve around interpersonal interactions you just can’t get through an email: telling stories around a camp fire; sharing hushed secrets late into the night; telling the worst jokes you ever heard; huddling together to decide the best capture-the-flag strategy.
Friendship doesn’t need a high-tech interface. Don’t think your kids will get with the program? Check out this Seventeen article where teen girls share their favorite summer camp memories. Not one involves a cell phone, I promise!
You’ve collected the brochures, visited the web sites, maybe you’ve visited a camp or two. You may have even have marked off a few weeks in July on your calendar. But you did it in pencil, because you just can’t get rid of that nagging question – is my child, my baby (sniff) ready for overnight camp?
There is no magic formula or age for camp, and every child is unique; but there are some tried and true signs of readiness. So before you pack the tennis racquets and the swimsuits, start by answering these five questions:
1. Is your child interested in and asking about camp?
Spring has just sprung – if your child is already asking about going away to camp, take that as a good sign. Children who are self-motivated and interested in attending camp have a greater chance of being successful once they arrive. Point your child to this: It’s My Life, a PBS web site for tweens, which has advice specifically for kids headed to camp. The site even encourages kids to talk to their families first. What mom doesn’t love that tidbit?
2. Can your child manage personal care needs and the tasks of daily living without mom around? On their own?
Overnight camp involves independent living. Does your child get dressed for school without your help? Can he/she fix themselves a snack? Take a shower? Remember to brush their teeth? If they still need help or daily reminders, you don’t have to keep them home (remember, your child will have great camp counselors to care for them), but you may want to encourage more self-reliance, a good quality to have at home, too.
3. How long has your child been away overnight without you? Was it a positive experience?
If your child loves sleepovers and slumber parties (at other people’s houses) transitioning to sleep-away camp may be a breeze. A week at grandma’s isn’t the same as three or four weeks at summer-camp; but if an overnight without you has never worked, do some trial runs before registering your child for camp. My own personal role model, Supernanny, has some great tips for making sleepovers a breeze.
4. Does your child have a healthy respect for adults and listen to instructions?
Life will be much easier for everyone if your child is good at following instructions and is willing to go along with camp rules. Just keep in mind that our kids often reserve their worst behavior for us, their parents, bless them. If your child is well-behaved in school, with coaches and other adults in positions of authority, they should do fine at camp.
5. Is your child willing to try new things?
Life comes at you fast, Ferris Bueller said, and the same is true for summer camp. Each day is filled with new people to meet, new surroundings, and new activities to try. For kids willing to give it a go, there’s no better place to spread their wings than summer camp.
The Bottom Line
No one knows your child like you do – even after you’ve completed all the quizzes and checklists and asked all your friends about their kids’ experiences, the best thing to do is trust your instincts. If you feel it in your gut that your child can handle overnight camp, you’re probably right. Get ready… summer is on its way!
Olivia, Guest Blogger