As parents, one of our top jobs is to prepare kids for a life of independence WITHOUT their Mom and Dad. We know that leaving kids at their first overnight camp for a week is hard for the child – but it is also hard for the parents.
The issue of preparing youngsters for a first time overnight camp can be another tough issue to navigate for blended families. It has been a tough one for us these last few weeks.
Knowing that we cannot control what happens when the children are not with us makes our strategies for raising and preparing the kids all the more important. And we know that overnight summer camps are critical in building independence as youngsters grow into teens and then adults.
However, former spouses may disagree with giving kids independence. Some parents don’t want kids to go away to camp because they will miss the kids too much. Some parents want their kids to keep the “need” they have as newborns and toddlers for a variety of reasons – probably because they feel like they are losing their ability to control their kids. Some parents focus on their own personal feelings rather than what may be best for the kids. That creates difficulty in parenting kids in two households with different approaches.
We all know that first time campers get fearful of being away from their parents for an extended period of time. They want the comfort of Mom or Dad putting them to bed at night and being there in the morning.
But, some parents can get fearful with the same kind of separation discomfort that kids have with camp. Parents begin to wonder…“Will they still need me?”…“Will they be ok without me there?”…“What if someone isn’t watching and a tree falls on them?” (obvious exaggeration)…”I don’t want them to grow up too quick.”
Camps clearly have a huge impact in preparing kids to live away from their parents as they approach their college years. They start doing things for themselves and realize they don’t need their parents to watch over their backs 24-7.
Molly is attending her first weekly overnight camp and she is getting the jitters as it is 4 weeks away. So we started a weekly/daily countdown in preparation. We will talk about it each week, give her a little camp gift (sweatshirt, disposable camera, journal to write in each night, reading light), and we will have Molly talk to other first time female campers about how awesome camp is and how she won’t even think about her parents after the first night.
We never attended overnight camps growing up so we totally missed that experience. Looking back, it would have been a rewarding and helpful one given our rebellious behavior after high school. Camps nowadays are so much that we want to stay with our kids instead of dropping them off!
It has been a joy to team up together to prepare Molly for this special time of going away to camp. It is part of what makes parenting together so fun. We are blessed to be together in remarriage and parent four special kids.
Here are the best links to online advice that we found: