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Helping campers have a successful return home at the end of the summer

easing-back-into-home-life_copy.jpgWith both Color Wars over, our campers are suddenly confronted with the realization that this incredible 7 week overnight camp experience is about to come to a end…at least for this year. All morning long the staff and I have been helping some of our campers process their feelings about how much they are going to miss their camp friends, our activities, their favorite counselors, and what every day life is like here. 

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Over the years some parents have reached out after an amazing camp summer to say that their child has faced some challenges with the return to home life, and asked us for our thoughts on how to help make this transition easier. Just last week I was sitting down to write my thoughts on this topic when my friend and colleague Jess Bernstein at the American Camp Association office in NYC penned this fantastic blog on the A Child Grows In Brooklyn website

I have reposted Jess’ ideas here, and not only recommend them but will be using them with the Kenwood & Evergreen campers who live in my home. 

  1. Give your child some space – Remember, your child has been away from you for a few weeks now.He has gained independence and has been making decisions without your input.  Let your child practice this new found independence and allow for some more choice at home.
  2. Down time – Your child may come home from camp and just want to relax. After all, your child has been busy with amazing camp activities from 8 am – 9:30 PM every day for weeks! Try not to schedule too much for your child the first few days he or she is home.  Let your child adjust to home life and just chill out for a bit before getting back into other activities.
  3. Talk about camp – Your child is used to living and breathing camp 24/7. Let your child continue to talk about camp at home.  Ask questions about the experience and get a bit more information other than the four line letter home you received!
  4. Put a date on the calendar – Schedule a get together with your child’s bunk for early fall. Your son or daughter will be missing his or her camp friends so having something on the calendar to look forward to will help. Remember to invite everyone—leaving a few children out creates hurt feelings and tension among the group.
  5. Spend time together – With just a few weeks left until school begins, plan some fun outings as a family. After all, your child has been away for a number of weeks and you missed him!  Spend time doing things you enjoy together.

There’s a 6th idea that I would love to offer as well: substantially limit time on electronic devices. Our campers have had almost 2 whole months free from the tether of iphones, television, and tablets, and they have learned how to live happily without them. As excited as they may be to see these things this coming weekend, it may be hard for them to balance having them back in their lives on such a regular basis. It’s just one other thought that I had after reading Jess’ great list. 

I’m curious if our camp parent readers have any tips or ideas that they have used to help their children make a smooth transition back to home life. If so please consider sharing them in our comment section below!

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