It’s the last week of June, the time of year when many parents across the country are getting their children ready for their imminent departure to sleep-away camp. For most of our children, camp is a fun and rewarding experience filled with new friendships and excitement. In addition to physical and athletic activities, kids learn the important, long-lasting skills of cooperation, competition and teamwork. For many children, summer camp is a time of significant emotional growth, development and transition. I always feel that my children come home after the summer seeming older or more mature than before they left.
Most children return with the realization that they can survive away from home. A whole newfound independence emerges and it is a great source of pride for our little (or not so little) ones. The question is,can parents survive with their children away? We are so focused on getting our children camp-ready that we forget to prepare ourselves for the separation that lies ahead.
I have seen parents succumb to great lows—yes, those are the parents who send their kids off to sleep-away camp and before the camp bus is out of sight, they are already on their computers desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of their kids when the camp websites start posting the first set of pictures. Because only when we see that first thumbnail image of our child swinging a bat, kicking a ball, or jumping into the pool, only then can we breathe a sigh of relief that our kids are having the best summer ever—and it was worth every penny!
Did we forget why we send our kids to camp in the first place? Aren’t we giving our children the gift of summer camp so they can frolic in their sense of self-reliance, meet new friends and get a healthy dose of vitamin D? In summer camp, our children have the opportunity to reconnect with the basics—no video games, computersor TV. Forcing our children out of their comfort zone can enable them to appreciate nature and discover that they like a new sport or maybe even new foods.
Our kids are busy in camp with a packed schedule of fun activities. Just because we don’t see them in every photo on the camp website, doesn’t mean that they are not having a great time. It likely means they’re engaged in the activities, doing what they are supposed to be doing, and not missing home as much as we are worried they will.
Yes, it’s hard to entrust our children’s care to others, but think about all the wonderful new experiences they will gain. To all my fellow parents, enjoy your summer vacation!
P’nina Seplowitz lives in Bergenfield with her husband and their three children. She is a Jewish community activist and VP of Sales and Marketing for an online magazine subscription company and authored two books: Once Upon A Vegetable for children, and White Angel, a Holocaust memoir. Visit www.PninaSeplowitz.com for more information.
By P’nina Seplowitz