HOME FROM CAMP, A WARNING (& TIPS) from Anna!
We know you want to swallow her whole. Here are some tips to help you help yourself (and in doing so, help your camper re-enter the world).
1. Don’t take it personally.
Yes, she’ll be SO happy to see you. She’s also very, very sad.
She’s sad to leave camp! She’s sad to leave her friends! She’s sad to leave her counselors! She’s sad to leave her independence and camp persona! It’s okay (great actually)! It means you gave her the best gift ever!
2. Remember she’s exhausted.
In the past week alone she’s experienced Pioneer Days, the play, a dance show, a gymnastics show, banquet, wishing boats, packing and more. Over the past seven weeks she’s been living with ten other people, hanging out with friends day and night, participating in activities from sun up to sun down. Enough said.
3. Be patient.
It might take a few hours or a few days to be entirely “on.” She might even seem a little numb. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you or didn’t miss you. It doesn’t mean that she won’t open up and start gushing in a few days. Nothing is wrong. She just needs time! Things that are normal: wanting to talk to her camp friends immediately, all-day, every day for a few days (yes, she’s just spent seven weeks with them- we know). Wanting to keep on that disgusting arm of camp friendship bracelets (don’t tell her they’re ridiculous unless you want to get hurt). Wanting to spend some time alone before jumping into the deep end of home life (think family gatherings, the mall, play dates). Any combination of the above. Normal. Normal. Normal.
4. Focus on small moments and questions.
Think about your two best friends who live far away.
Friend one: you pick up the phone no matter what, even if you only have a minute. Though it’s been months, you know she’ll cut right to the chase and start where things left off. Maybe you just answer a quick question, maybe you talk about who got the final rose- you can hang up when you need to. One word answers, longer answers, anything goes. No pressure.
Friend two: You love her. Really. You LOVE her as much as friend one. But you only pick up when you have time to sit, totally focused, for an hour-long catch-up. So, no. You don’t always pick up. Because you’re at work, or you’re making dinner, or you’re about to get the kids ready for bed, or you just don’t feel like telling your life story. That. Sounds. Exhausting.
The moral? Be friend one. You’ll learn more! She’ll start talking!
What was this morning like?
Which choice activity was the best?
Who was the goofiest counselor in your bunk?
Less good questions/statements:
Tell me EVERYTHING about camp.
Can you explain your weekly schedule?
What were all of your counselors like?
Ask a few, manageable, lighthearted questions every hour on that first day. You’ll open up that can of worms without having to pry, without overwhelming your fresh-off-the-bus camper.
5. Give her wings.
At camp she was the most independent version of herself, and she’s still basking in the glow of those camp freedoms. Advocating for herself, making independent choices— it’s why you sent her to camp! Remember how you felt the first time you came home from college. It was a little weird! Think about small liberties you can introduce to reinforce your camper’s summer growth. If you have an eight-year-old who didn’t make her bed before camp, encourage her to make her bed at home (even if it isn’t as beautiful as you’d like). Though seemingly a “chore,” having your camper do things for herself at home will continue the summer’s momentum and make her feel happy and confident. And isn’t that what this whole camp thing was about from the start?