Those weeks when our kids are away from home at sleepaway can seem like an eternity for us. But once it’s time for them to come home, don’t be surprised if they aren’t excited and try not to take it personally. Camp has become your child’s home away from home—where they’ve been immersed in their own camp world, living among counselors and close friends and participating in the rituals and traditions of their camp community. Be happy that your child had a wonderful summer away, full of learning new activities, building strong friendships and gaining important life skills. Here are a few tips you can use to help your child transition back to home after an awesome summer at overnight camp.
Your child may come home from camp and just want to relax. After all, they’ve been busy with amazing camp activities all day, every day for weeks! Try not to schedule too much for your child the first few days they are home. Let them adjust to home life and just chill out for a bit before getting back into other activities.
GIVE YOUR CHILD SOME AUTONOMY
Remember, your child has been away from you for a few weeks now. They have gained independence and have been making decisions about what to wear or what foods to eat without your input. Let your child practice this newfound independence and allow for some more choice at home.
TALK ABOUT CAMP
Your child is used to living and breathing camp 24/7. Let your child continue to talk about camp at home. Be curious about the experience but try to refrain from firing off too many questions. Let your child tell you about camp in their own time.
PUT A DATE ON THE CALENDAR
Your child will be missing their camp friends from the minute they get home so schedule a get-together with your child’s bunk for early fall. Remember to either do one-on-one playdates or invite everyone—leaving a few kids out creates hurt feelings and tension among the group.
GRADUALLY RECONNECT WITH HOME FRIENDS
Of course your child will want to see their home friends but don’t worry if it’s not the first thing they want to do. Camp friends are special—after all, these kids live, eat and do so many activities together. They become like family. Your child may need some time to transition from being with camp friends to getting together with home friends.
CONSIDER A TECHNOLOGY RESET
Your child not only survived but thrived at camp without the use of an iPad or phone. Now is a good time to consider a technology reset by setting some limitations on screen time or social media.
SPEND TIME TOGETHER
Plan some fun outings as a family before school starts. Although you gave your child the gift of camp this summer, you missed them and now it’s time to make the most of family time before they head back to class.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE GIFT OF CAMP
Take a moment to appreciate the big decision you made to send your child to sleepaway camp. It wasn’t an easy one but now that your child is home, you can witness all the amazing growth your child has gone through during their time away from home.
—Jess Michaels is the director of communications for the American Camp Association (ACA), NY and NJ.