You Just Dropped Your Child Off at Camp Tel Noar for the First Time…Now What???
Your heart is probably racing, you might be a bit teary eyed, and for sure you are second guessing this decision…and you haven’t even left Main Street yet! First things first: BREATHE. Now that you have relaxed (just a little) look in that rear view mirror (for just a moment) and remind yourself “Congratulations, you did it! You are officially a camp parent!” If it’s not sinking in, go ahead and say it again…
You have just given your child the greatest gift he or she will ever receive: independence, friendships, a strong Jewish community to belong to, and your confidence that they can handle everything that goes with it! You have given them a world of opportunity in a safe place for them to try new things and discover who they want to be. Now sit back, relax, and let us do all the work!
I know you are probably still freaking out in spite of my very sound guidance and zen philosphy. So here are my top 5 tips to help you last your first weeks as a first time camp parent:
- Hand write those letters! Bunk notes are an easy fall back, but sitting down to think a little bit about what you’d like to write to your child and taking the time to write it so he or she can read it will mean the world to them. Picture the difference: the anticipation of opening an envelope with your name on it vs. receiving a typewritten printout. Which would you rather receive?
- Camp Time is Warped Time – In a world where we are used to instant gratification, remember that your child’s letter home could take three days or more to reach you. The contents of that letter is already “old news” so give your child the pep talks they might need if you get a letter that concerns you in your next bunk note (and remind them that their counselors are there to help), but also have the confidence that they’ve probably solved whatever problem they had on their own and a more upbeat letter is already on its way.
- Let yourself forget about your child (for just a moment)! I know how hard it can be to leave your child in someone else’s care, but feel good about the amazing summer they will have and that they have you to thank for it. Sit down and have a meal with your spouse or friends and talk about something other than your child at camp. I know, easier said than done, but when was the last time you complained about having time to yourself? Enjoy it!
- Focus on your younger child(ren) with full attention: Remember when your first was born and you could let your entire world revolve around them? News flash, your younger children never enjoyed that luxury! So give it to them now — enjoy their unique “special-ness” without their older sibling around for awhile. You just may discover some amazing things about your child you never knew…all because you sent your older one to camp!
- Rely on each other for support: I bet you didn’t know that there is an entire counter-culture of parents who send their kids to camp and love every moment of it! They actually count down to camp with their kids to enjoy a little peace and quiet around the house for a change. They know it’s only temporary, and so do you, so reach out to that fellow camp parent who recommended you to CTN to remember why you’ve made the best decision you can for your child. Their children are living proof.