7 Things Camp Directors Wish Parents Would Do While Their Child Is At Sleepaway Camp

by Jess Michaels

Sleepaway camp is just a few weeks away, and soon your child will be enjoying a summer full of sports, singing around the campfire, and making new friends. You, on the other hand, are a nervous wreck.  You can’t imagine your child surviving without you. As a parent and summer camp professional, I’ve talked to many camp directors about what they wish parents would do when their child is at camp. Here are the top seven things they say:

1. Focus on the positive.

Sure, you’re going to miss your child, but keep in mind why you sent them to sleepaway camp. They are going to gain important life skills in a fun and caring environment, so try to focus on that when you feel a bit anxious.

2. Stop analyzing online photos.

You’ve combed through the 200-plus daily photos posted by the camp, and now you are obsessing because your sweet girl wasn’t smiling. Take a breath. Just because she isn’t smiling doesn’t mean she isn’t having fun. She was most likely focusing on an activity and not posing for a picture.

3. Refrain from calling the camp office with every thought.

Camp directors want to have open communication and hear any concerns you may have, but please don’t call the office every day with comments like, “My child is missing a sock.” When your child is at camp, allow them to solve their own problems or ask a counselor for help. Trust that the camp staff is taking care of your child and will make sure your camper has everything they need.

4. Don’t make pickup deals.

Did the first letter home or that first phone call make you think your child isn’t as happy as they could be? Keep in mind it takes time for children to adjust to a new environment. Offer positive encouragement, and let your child know they will have a great time. Making pickup deals will send a message to your child that you don’t believe they will have a successful camp experience.

5. Don’t start cabin drama.

Don’t start a group text with the other moms in your child’s cabin to talk about what is going on at camp. Try not to get involved by asking how everyone’s child is doing and if they have heard anything about yours. Feel confident that your child is doing fine and that you will hear from the camp director if they aren’t.

6. Respect camp rules.

Don’t sneak an iPhone, food, or other prohibited items to your child on visiting day or in packages. You are teaching your child that rules don’t apply and that they can be broken.

7. Take a break.

Remember that camp is also a chance for you to have a break from the cooking, laundry, and playdates. Take this time to spend more time with your spouse, friends, or special time with your child still at home.  A child at camp can also be a vacation for you, so kick back, relax, and let the camp professionals do their job — which is to provide your child with the best summer of their life.

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Unplug from Technology at Summer Camp

Unplug this summer and put those electronics down!

Camp might just be the last frontier for children to unplug and learn the lost art of speaking face to face.

The use of technology in our everyday lives is important, but it is also important to take a break from it. This summer we will be launching our ‘Unplug’ initiative, to get campers excited about the outdoors again!

Camp is all about spending the summer with friends and learning new things every day. If kids just put down the electronics and embrace all that camp has to offer, they will see that everything they need to have fun, is right in front of them!

We will be emailing our electronics policy to our Silver Lake families in the next few days!

We can’t wait to see you!

#Unplug

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I Love My Kid — That’s Why I Send Him Away For the Summer

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“I could never,” the stranger in line in front of me at Target exclaimed with her hand clenched against her chest.

Moments earlier, she overheard me on the phone asking my 10-year-old son how many tubes of sunscreen he went through last Summer and if he needed a new fan this year. She asked where we were headed, which, based on the overflowing nature of my shopping cart, I understood. I laughed, telling her it wasn’t “we” — it was “he.” He was going to sleepaway camp for the Summer and I was trying to get a head start on packing. That, of course, led to questions about how long and where and why. To which I answered, seven weeks, five hours away, and because we love him and want him to experience all that camp has to offer.

That’s when she made her comment. I decided it wasn’t worth any more discussion — I had my reasons and didn’t need to explain them to a stranger — but it did get me thinking. Why do we ship our children away for the Summer?

Both my husband and I went away to camp when we were kids, me for four weeks each Summer and him for eight. Ask us, or really any other kid who did so, and they’ll probably tell you those were the happiest days of their childhoods. We can still sing the songs, tell color war stories until your ears fall off, recall first crushes . . . and first kisses, and remember the distinct smell of the dining hall and the slimy bottoms of the lakes.

What we didn’t realize at the time was everything else we learned. We learned independence. We learned to care for ourselves. Yes, there were counselors there overseeing everything, but we really did learn how to handle so much on our own. Without parents there, we learned to make new friends. We put ourselves out there and tried new activities and new foods. We learned a bit about ourselves without even realizing it.

These are the lessons I want my sons to learn — once both are old enough to go (my youngest is still too young). Being away from home is a time to learn about yourself outside of the comforts and security of home. It’s a time to learn to bask in the uncertainty of what comes next or who will be sleeping in the bed next to you. In this age of connectivity, where there’s always a phone, computer, or tablet in sight, it’s a forced break from that. My son’s camp does not allow any electronics and I couldn’t be more grateful. Camp is a time to re-create the carefree days of childhood that my kids’ grandparents — and even their great-grandparents — experienced all those years ago. As city dwellers, it’s also a chance for my kids to experience nature — not at a museum or a park surrounded by buildings, but nature in its natural state.

And, let’s be frank here: it’s always a great break for us, the parents. The hustle and bustle of the school year is exhausting. And by the time the Summer rolls around, we could all use a break from each other. Yes, I spend half my day scrolling through the photos the camp posts for any sign that my child is happy, sad, or really just clean! But the time apart proves that absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Last year, my oldest went off to camp for the first time. He didn’t know a soul. He sat on the bus with a boy he had met a few minutes earlier and a few days later I got a letter from him that he was loving it. He had already gone camping, canoeing, and water skiing — three things he’d never done in his life. He was playing street hockey and tennis and eating s’mores each night. And the kid I had to drag out of bed each morning for school had joined a Polar Bear club where they jump in the lake first thing every morning. In the matter of three days, he was already making memories. Five weeks later, he was begging us to extend his Summer to the full seven weeks away. We told him we thought he’d had enough for his first Summer, but would gladly do it for the next. Right now, he’s counting down the days on his calendar.

In shipping my kid away for the Summer, I’m giving him something special, whether he knows it or not right now. Just a few weeks ago, we were having one of our frequent arguments about something trivial. He suddenly blurted out that the reason I send him to camp is to “get rid of him for the Summer.” And while in that moment it may have rung true, I told him that wasn’t the case at all — that camp is hardly punishment; it’s a privilege and he’s very lucky to be able to go, that I would never spend the money I do on a camp if it was punishment.

So while the woman in line at Target may never understand why we send our kid to camp, I can think of a thousand reasons. But the best reason is that we’re doing it for him. There’s a saying the campers like to say: “We live 10 months for two.” I can’t think of a better sentiment.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Rebecca Gruber

 

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Home in a Hundred 2017

On Friday March 17th, the countdown to camp officially reached 100 days. To celebrate, we launched a photo competition that saw many of our campers send us pictures of themselves wearing their favorite camp gear to school. Everyone who submitted a picture was entered into a prize drawing to win a limited edition camp sweatshirt.

Our campers were really creative with this competition and we received so many awesome pictures! We had campers wearing their red chippies, sweatshirts, shorts, socks, sweatbands and even face paint in the camp colors.

The prize drawing took place on Friday March 24th and was drawn by our Camp Director, Michael Baer with the winners posted to Facebook and Instagram.

Congratulations to Shayna and thank you for showing us your camp spirit. We will be presenting Shayna with a limited edition sweatshirt at camp.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in our #HomeInAHundred competition and wore their camp gear to school. You all looked awesome! Below is a collection of some of the entries we received.

It is great to see that our campers are excited and counting down the days until we are all together again…Home at Silver Lake!

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Camper Highlight: Kids That Do Good by Max and Jake K.

 

There are many traits that our amazing campers have, but being kind to one another is one of the most important.

Did you see our Chipinaw campers, Max and Jake Klein on the Today Show on Monday, November 29th? The twins starred in the #ShareKindness program, a regular feature on the Today Show. This program aims to recognize those individuals that go above and beyond to share kindness to others, no matter how big or small the deed may be. Max and Jake have founded a charity organization called KidsThatDoGood.com, that allows young people to help out in their local communities through fund raising and awareness projects. Recently they helped collect 191 meals for the Thanksgiving holiday. Max and Jake have done an amazing job and we would like to wish them luck for the continued success of their project. #KindnessIsCool

You can watch the Today Show segment featuring Max and Jake below.

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Halloween Costume Contest WINNERS

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Happy Halloween! Congratulations to Josh who has won our Halloween Drawing Competition in the Silver Lake Upper Camp category with hisChippie the Bear from Space Jam” and Nikki who has won in the Lower Camp category. Nikki hit a home run with her costume design “Chippie the Bear wins World Series. We will be presenting Josh  and Nikki with the Limited Edition clipboards and stationary sets at the beginning of camp. Thank you to everyone who took part in the competition, your costume designs were awesome! 

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Halloween Costume Contest: Design Chippie’s Costume

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Chippie the Bear needs your help! He just can’t decide what costume to wear this year for Halloween. Enter our Halloween Drawing Competition and you will be entered into our prize draw to win a LIMITED EDITION clipboard and stationery set.

Download a Chippie the Bear template and instructions and design, draw, and color in the costume that you would like him to wear for Halloween this year! Is he going to be a Super Hero, Witch, Haunted Ghost, Pirate or your favorite TV Character!?

chippiethebear-template

Everyone who emails a picture and uploads to Instagram using #CostumeForChippie will be entered into the prize draw. A Winner for Lower Camp (1st-6th grade) and Upper Camp (7th-11th grade) will be announced on Halloween.

Email your picture to fun@silverlakecamp.com and follow us on Instagram – @silverlakecamp2004

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Phone-Sick At Camp: The Benefits of Screen Free Time

Attending summer camp for many children is a major step toward independence while still having fun and making life long friends. Spending time in a phone-free camp encourages kids to make decisions on their own without parent advice. However, breaking away from phones and the constant contact is just as hard for parents as is it for children. A recent NY Times article, Phone-Sick At Camp, discusses the need for a phone-free summer at camp plus provides advice for parents on how to prepare for the summer.

At Camps Chipinaw and Silver Lake we believe a screen-free summer helps our campers develop soft skills they don’t get to develop at school. They practice independence, teamwork, communication and problem solving face-to-face rather than through a phone.

You can read a portion of the NY Times article below.

Kids are on their phones in school, in restaurants, on vacations and even in bed. For many, sleepaway camp remains one of the last oases, largely untouched by technology. “Camp is a sacred space to unplug and be able to learn independence and social skills,” Dr. Uhls said. “It’s really important to put devices down and practice the art of face-to-face communication.”

Putting down the phone can be hard for the parents too, who are often anxious about separating from their children and are used to constant check-ins, whether they are in the next state or the next room.

With this constant communication, children seek their parents’ guidance and emotional support even when they are not together, leaving fewer opportunities to develop their own confidence and internal compass for decision-making. Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the author of the parenting book “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” tells the story of a college student at a salad bar who texted her mother to ask if she liked ranch dressing, rather than testing it herself. Such dependent relationships can rob children of the chance to trust and believe in someone else besides their parents. Creating bonds with others is one of the most important benefits of camp, and it is more likely to happen without the electronic connection to home.

To prepare to detach for camp, Dr. Thurber recommends families try one tech-free day per week over the month before camp, with no recreational screen time. “It’s good to practice some withholding from real-time digital communication and learn to not reflexively reach for cellphones,” he said.

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100 Days Till Camp Competition: #HomeInAHundred

On Friday March 18th, the countdown to camp officially reached 100 days. To celebrate, we launched a photo competition that saw many of our campers send us pictures of themselves wearing their favorite camp gear to school. Everyone who submitted a picture was entered into a prize drawing to win a limited edition camp sweatshirt.

Our campers were really creative with this competition and we received so many awesome pictures! We had campers wearing their red chippies, sweatshirts, shorts, socks, sweatbands and even face paint in the camp colors.

The prize drawing took place on Wednesday March 23rd and was drawn by our Camp Director, Michael Baer with the winners posted to Facebook and Instagram.

Congratulations to Maeve and thank you for showing us your camp spirit. We will be presenting Maeve with the limited edition sweatshirt at the beginning of camp.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in our #HomeInAHundred competition and wore their camp gear to school. You all looked awesome! Below is a collection of all of the entries we received.

It is great to see that our campers are excited and counting down the days until we are all together again…Home on the shores of Silver Lake!

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The 4-3-7 At Silver Lake: The Choice is Yours

Children and families benefit so much from the one-of-a-kind experience at Silver Lake. From the large variety of activities for campers to choose from to the hands-on support of our staff, Silver Lake is unlike any other! Our unique environment allows campers to explore the benefits of larger facilities while maintaining a close-knit community that nurtures your child’s aspirations, skills and independence.

To accommodate all families and campers, Silver Lake offers three summer camp sessions to choose from. The first session last for 4 weeks, the next session for 3 weeks and the last session is simply the combination of both sessions for a total of 7 weeks.

4 Weeks
Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.02.44 AMKick off the summer with 4 weeks of exploring the outdoors, making new friends, learning new skills and enjoying the sun out on the lake!

Our first session is the ultimate summer experience packed into 4 weeks of fun, friends and adventure. It’s a great way for your child to start the summer in a positive, uplifting way. The 4-week program includes all of your children’s favorite summer activities and special events like a day trip to an amusement park, Visiting Day, Color War and SO much more!

3 Weeks
If you are looking for a shorter summer camp experience complete with all the same Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.02.32 AMincredible events and activities, the 3-week program is a great fit for you!

Our 3-week program takes all the amazing camp activities, events and experiences you’d find at a full-summer camp and action-packs them into a shorter session. In three weeks your child will enjoy a variety of camp activities and events, plus a few unique to only to this session. Some of the activities include Carnival, College Bowl competition and the All-Star show.

7 Weeks
Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.03.00 AMAre you ready for the summer of a lifetime? Make this year one to remember during our full 7-week program!

Our last option combines the first two sessions to give your child the full summer camp experience. During the 7-week program campers have the opportunity to explore all the events, trips and activities that interest them. The full session allows campers to truly focus on their passions, make lifetime friendships and develop valuable skills.

What session will YOU attend this summer? The choice is yours!

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