Dear 2022 Camp Families,
Yesterday my husband Nolan and I picked up our own campers from Hive and Lanakila. Our youngest, who attended Horizons Day Camp this summer, bounced in the backseat, hardly able to contain himself and so eager to welcome his siblings home after seven weeks apart.
Our house feels very different than it did two days ago. Louder. Messier. More vibrant. Lots of storytelling, endless singing, the occasional peal of laughter. Belongings spilling out of backpacks and trunks, laundry piled up. The joys of our family reuniting, new signs of maturity and contentedness brimming over in each of our kids.
I’m sure you can relate to some of these same things, whether you picked up your camper after first session, were at Closing Day (or the bus station or airport!) yesterday, or will welcome them home soon.
I believe that camp is a gift and its impact is revealed over time, in big and small ways. It often follows a predictable pattern, beginning with the post-camp glow. When kids return from camp, we notice major changes right away—they’re taller, they’re more confident and independent, more responsible. We’re amazed and proud of them for all they accomplished. Later, once our children have settled back in at home, we’ll see some re-entry road bumps—physical and emotional fatigue, missing camp friends, re-adjusting to family rules, maybe some mixed feelings about heading back to school. Then over the course of the school year, we’ll observe growth in how they handle academics, friendships, and family life—seeds planted and nurtured at camp.
The question I hear most often from parents at this time of year is: how do we help our child bring their camp self home? How do we keep the camp glow glowing? Here are a few ideas to consider:
Once your camper has decompressed and you feel they’re ready (riding in the car is a great time for a chat), ask them: what’s one thing you learned about yourself at camp that you’d like to continue or do more of at home? And then listen. Maybe they were courageous in trying a new activity or introducing themselves to a new friend. Perhaps they learned another way to communicate or solve problems. Ask your camper: what are some ways you might want to keep that going? Notice when your child demonstrates these qualities and share positive feedback when they do.
Follow their lead. Does your camper talk about a new passion for basketball or journal writing? For drawing or swimming? Are there possibilities at home where they could continue to explore these areas? If not, might this be time—with a new camp sense of confidence in the bank—to try out an activity they’ve wanted to learn but have been hesitant to start?
Ask your camper how it felt to have a break from technology or screen time. What did they notice? How were their friendships impacted? Is there a way they’d like to incorporate more screen-free time into their lives at home? Do they have an idea they’d like to propose for your family to reduce screen time and connect to each other face to face?
Listen carefully over the next weeks and months for new insights into your child’s camp summer. On the way to school one winter morning, you’re likely to hear about a funny time in a canoe with a friend or a memory of a campfire story on a tent overnight. The camp story will unfold over the course of the year.
Please stay in touch—we will.
And finally, mark your calendars: registration for summer 2023 opens on Tuesday, October 11. We will be on the road this fall, visiting new and returning camp families, and hope to see you then!
All my best,
Vanessa Mendillo Riegler