I love camp! When I was a kid I went to soccer camp and basketball camp and Camp Phillip, a Christian camp in Wautoma, Wis. My love for Camp Phillip grew as I got older. I became part of the junior staff (high school volunteers) and then paid staff. It then moved into my full-time job when I graduated college. As a camp counselor, I saw hundreds of children get dropped off at camp—some for the first time and some who kept returning.
As familiar as I am with camp life, it was a crazy different perspective to be the one dropping off her child. As a mom, I have been dropping off my children at camp for the past ten years. Every year comes with excitement and anxiousness. How do I prepare myself? How do I prepare my child? Here are a few thoughts:
- Let him help pack. Go through the list so you don’t forget anything. And let him pack it so he knows where everything is.
- Make writing to you easy. Pack paper and self-addressed stamped envelopes. That way it is easy for her to write to you if she would like to. Also know that she might be having way too much fun to write, so give her permission not to write. After all, we want our children to focus on where they are and enjoy that!
- Write a letter to him. I’ll be honest, I always think about this one too late. But maybe this can help you. Write him a letter and send it a day or two before camp starts. That way he gets a letter right away (see point #5 when writing).
- DON’T LINGER! When you drop her off, introduce yourself and your child to the counselor. Help her get situated (make her bed, etc.), give her a hug, and go.
- Leave your child with confidence. As a counselor I could pick out the kids who would probably be homesick.
Why? Because their parents gave them permission to be homesick by saying things like, “If you get sad, you can call me” or “I am going to miss you soooo much!” or “I can’t wait until I see you on Saturday!” Instead say, “You are going to have such a good time” or “I can’t wait to hear all about the fun you’re going to have this week.” Put the focus on why they are there instead of “missing” them, even though you are going to miss them. Cry after you are gone.
I truly believe in the camping ministry. It allows children to be who they are. It gives them the opportunity to see young adults model loving Jesus and loving others, including your child. It also gives your child a small piece of independence. After all, our goal as parents is to teach our children how to fly.
Jenni Schubring and her husband, Tad, currently have six children in their clan ranging in age from 10 to 18 as well as their crazy dog.