Every now and then we see books posted on twitter or on camp blogs and they catch our eye. This one, Homesick and Happy by Dr. Michael Thompson was incredibly readable and did a great job of explaining benefits of a camp environment. We frequently have first time campers who are nervous, but a lot of the time their apprehension about the new situation is outmatched by their parent’s fear of the unknown. Every family is different and every child is different, but I really appreciated the look into the “secret camp world” that this book provided. We’ll blog about this book a couple of times, but I wanted to share a passage from the first chapter called “Off They Go.”
“There are many times when my answer to a parenting question has been: Have you thought about sending your child to sleepaway camp? Have you considered that your child needs to be away from you to take this particular developmental leap? I ask because, in the final analysis there are things we cannot do for our children, no matter how much we might want to. In order to successfully accomplish these tasks, to grow in the ways they need to grow, children have to do it on their own, and usually away from their parents, sometimes overnight, sometimes for days or weeks or even months.
In my conversations with parents, they are often surprised and relieved to learn that, developmentally speaking, there is a limit to what they can and should do for their children. More specifically there are eight fundamental things that parents want to do for or give their children but cannot:
1.We cannot make our children happy.
2.We cannot give our children high self-esteem.
3.We cannot make friends for our children or micromanage their friendships.
4.We cannot successfully double as our child’s agent, manager, and coach.
5.We cannot create the ‘second family’ for which our child yearns in order to facilitate his or her own growth.
6.It is increasingly apparent that we parents cannot compete with or limit our children’s total immersion in the online, digital, and social media realms.
7.We cannot keep our children perfectly safe, but we can drive them crazy trying.
8.We cannot make our children independent.
I understand from my conversations with parents over the years that they wish they could do all of these things. But let’s take a closer look. I hope that you will come to appreciate why, as parents, we cannot accomplish what are essentially our children’s developmental tasks.”
Camp proves a safe environment for kids to explore, learn, and grow in identity and responsibility. Let us know what you think.