How Do I Hear
From My Camper?
You dropped your child off at camp two days ago, you have heard nothing, and you sit at home and wonder. The question is how can you be sure your camper is okay? First, it is important to know that there is a huge variety in the ways different camps help parents and campers stay in touch. Some camps allow campers to carry cell phones; others ask that phones be left at home. Some allow free access to email; others work to remove technology as a whole. Some camps have designated visiting days; others discourage any visits at all. Every camp is different so it is important that you ask the director how communication happens before you enroll in camp.
Part of the magic of a great camp experience is being in a self-consciously closed community. During their sessions campers live their whole lives on the camp property, with their camp friends, and so they become completely immersed in the drama and story of camp. This is the most fundamental ingredient of a great camping adventure and this is the reason many directors discourage parents from calling or visiting their campers.
Instead, these camps work to create a one way mirror to allow you to see what is happening at camp without changing your child’s camp experience. The reason for this “creative separation” is to allow the children to develop a healthy sense of independence, which then leads to a healthy sense of adventure. At the same time, most camp directors want parents to see everything that happens at camp. They are your children, and directors want to be sure that you are happy with how they are doing at camp. Many create this one way mirror by daily publishing photos on their websites. Others may add newsletters, periodic Tweets (yes, you may have to start Twitter!), or videos. If you are still concerned, you can also call your child’s counselor, or even the camp director. Again, most camp directors want to let you know how your camper is doing, after all, we’re parents too.
As I write this my own daughter is preparing to come to camp. Soon the cliques at her school, her concerns about grades, and what her friends are doing and wearing and the music they listen to will be far from her mind. They will again be replaced by her love for her tribe, the competition for the banner, singing in the dining hall, and her growth as a paddler, a rider, a gymnast, and a climber. Even more, they will be replaced by a community of friends with whom she will share the deepest friendships and most exciting adventures of her life. It is likely that this is what your camp director wants for your camper as well.