Understanding the Camp Partnership
Camp Directors are, by nature, caring individuals with a passion to not only pour into the lives of children individually, but also, in doing so, to change the world. Here at ACTIVE, we actually think of them as heroes dressed as ordinary folks.
The Camp Director parents often meet on Drop-off Day, however, is wearing a few dozen hats and orchestrating the most hectic day of their week. It’s hardly the best time for parents—who themselves may be experiencing an emotionally-charged or hectic drop-off—to discuss their concerns about their child.
Today’s parents experience much higher levels of anxiety about parenting than previous generations did. Camp Directors know this about parents, but in a recent conversation with American Camp Association’s CEO, Tom Holland, we learned 3 things that Camp Directors wish parents knew:
1. Our belief in the positive, lasting impact of camp on kids.
Camp Directors understand all the ways that camp benefits children – the fun AND the challenges. They go to great lengths to make the camp experience positive – knowing, at the same time, that the hard parts are an important part of the experience. Unlike parents, they (and their staff) can get away with a little less coddling – but it doesn’t mean they don’t care or won’t make some concessions when necessary!
The hierarchy of staff exists to ensure that no child is allowed to remain in real distress or falls through the cracks, unnoticed. (It works in the vast majority of cases. If it has ever failed your child, we hope you’ll give camp—a different one, perhaps—another try.)
2. We’re all partners for the growth of your child.
Not only the Camp Director but also the counselors, kitchen staff, nurse, and office personnel are all there to create this unique setting that grows children. They are all very inclined to work with you regarding your child’s unique fears, special needs, areas of growth and struggles. Bringing these things to their attention before Camp Drop-off Day gives them time to input notes into your child’s profile and inform all who need to be informed before your child even gets there.
Your child’s counselor will spend the most time with your child and is the only adult with him or her at night. Request a conversation prior to camp if you have concerns; the counselor will appreciate knowing the full story.
3. You have a voice!
Besides face-to-face, phone or email conversations (from which, again, most camps will record notes in your child’s profile), take advantage of after-camp evaluations and surveys to express any concerns or appreciation you have.
These feedback requests come from the Camp Director’s desire to deliver a positive camp experience. Your response is very valuable.
For parents who are anxious about how their child will fare at camp, please know that there is a partnership between you and the camp that exists solely for the benefit of your child.
Camp is so good for your child that you can’t afford to let your concerns for your son or daughter override your decision. Camp changes kids for the better!
CAMP DIRECTORS: Did we leave anything out? Post your comments on this Facebook thread.
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