It’s been a long couple of weeks and you are beyond happy for your child to return home after being at overnight camp. But don’t be too surprised if your child isn’t that excited to come home! Try not to take it too personally. Camp has become your child’s home away from home—where they have 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.
Down time – Your child may come home from camp and just want to relax. After all, your child has 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 your child adjust to home life and just chill out for a bit before getting back into other activities.
Give Your Child Some Space – 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 new found 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. Ask questions about the experience but try to refrain yourself 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 invite everyone—leaving a few children out creates hurt feelings and tension among the group.
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 a lot of activities together. They become like family. Your child may need some time to transition from being with their camp friends to getting together with their 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 and set some limitations on screen time if needed.
Spend time together – With just a few weeks left until school begins, plan some fun outings as a family. Although you gave your child the gift of camp this summer, you missed them and now it’s time for family time!
Acknowledge the gift you gave them – Take a moment to appreciate the big decision you made to send your child to 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 while away from home.
—Jess Michaels is the director of communications for the American Camp Association (ACA), NY and NJ, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the summer camp experience.