Author Archives: Alison Moeschberger

Working at Gold Arrow Camp

Providing campers with a quality camp program means having a highly skilled staff who bring with them their warmth and enthusiasm for working with children. We are looking for a diverse staff who G-7110share the common goal of providing the best camp experience possible to the children we serve. Because of the intensity of the work, the long hours, and the stress created by being fully responsible for a group of children, working at camp is not for everyone. Being a counselor at Gold Arrow Camp can be extremely rewarding as well as challenging.

Approximately 220 dedicated people make up the counseling, administrative, and support staff of Gold Arrow Camp. Our staff members’ enthusiasm, dedication and interest in child development CabinTheme-0285are the key to positive experiences for each camper. Counselors are selected based on the ability to serve as outstanding role models and leaders. All staff members must have completed one year of college or post-high school work experience and be at least 18 years of age prior to the first day of work. They must have exceptional communication skills, be dedicated to providing children with a memorable and fun camp experience, and support Gold Arrow Camp’s overall philosophy and goals.

Staff are recruited from all over the United States and from Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. Our diverse staff, like our campers, add a unique flavor to the camp community. The entire staff works together toward their final goal of providing a positive, fun, and nurturing camp experience for each child.

For more information about applying to work at camp this summer, visit our Prospective Staff page.

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Why I Send My Kids to Camp: It Grows Their Grit

Growing Grit“The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles.”
– Garth Stein

Written by Christine Carter, Ph.D.

What quality does the Buddha share with Luke Skywalker and Joan of Arc? What links Harriet Tubman with Harry Potter? What does your camper have in common with Michael Jordan?

It has nothing to do with enlightenment or magic. It has to do with struggle. These heroes share a key quality: GRIT.

What is grit?

I think the best way to describe it is by starting with Joseph Campbell and his classic analysis of the “hero’s journey.” Campbell explains how the journey always begins when the hero leaves home and all that is familiar and predictable. After that, Campbell writes, “Dragons have now to be slain and surprising barriers passed—again, again, and again. Meanwhile there will be a multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable ecstasies and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land.”

Kinda sounds like summer camp to me.

It is grit that makes our heroes (campers) face down their dragons and persist in the face of difficulty, setbacks, failure, and fear. They fall down and get back up again. They try their hardest, only to fail. But instead of giving up, they try again and again and again.

It isn’t just historical or fictional heroes who need to be gritty to rise to the top. Recent psychological research has found that grit is one of the best predictors of elite performance, whether in the classroom or in the workforce. Defined by researchers as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” grit gives kids the strength to cope with a run-of-the-mill bad day (or week or season) as well as with trauma or crisis.

It turns out that grit predicts performance better than IQ or innate talent. Grit makes our kids productive and successful because it allows them to reach their long-term goals despite life’s inevitable setbacks. This ability to overcome challenges makes them stronger and more masterful at their tasks. Moreover, the ability to cope with difficulty—to be resilient—paves the way for their long-term happiness.

Grit is not really a personality trait as much as it is a facet of a person’s character that is developed like any other skill. Babies are not born with grit any more than they are born with the ability to speak their mother’s native language. We humans develop grit by encountering difficulty and learning to cope with it.

And with that in mind, here’s some perverse “good” news: No life is free from challenges or difficulties. In other words, all of our kids will have plenty of opportunities to develop grit. Out of their setbacks and failures grow the roots of success and happiness. Grandmaster chess players, great athletes, scientific geniuses, and celebrated artists learn, in part, by losing, making mistakes, and failing. Consider this quote from Michael Jordan (who, incidentally, was cut from his high school basketball team):

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

The even better news is that most kids have the capacity to develop grit, and I believe summer camp is the best place for them to do it. Camp exposes kids to what I think of as “safe difficulties”–real physical, social, and emotional challenges for them to overcome. They will sometimes fall off the rock, or struggle to kneeboard. They may have a hard time leaving home, or have a hard time making friends. They will also have a ton of old-fashioned fun, make deep friendships, feel great gratitude for their families, experience the exhilaration of collective joy, learn new skills and develop new talents.

The benefit, to me, is this combination of sheer joy and great difficulty that camp exposes kids to. For most kids, camp is an experience that is at times hard and uncomfortable, but that they remember most for all the times it was easy and joyful.

Despite the discomfort they may feel at times, kids experience camp positively for three reasons:

First, they learn at camp that it isn’t so bad to make a mistake, and that a difficult situation is just a difficult situation, a problem to be solved or an opportunity for improvement. At home and at school, kids typically fear making mistakes and so hide their failures, and this prevents them from truly learning anything from them.

Second, at camp kids learn that they have the ability to cope with difficult feelings and situations themselves. At home, we well-meaning parents are usually around to help solve problems and salve emotional pain. At camp, kids gain a more powerful sense of themselves when they develop the skills they need to deal with difficulty without their parents, and these skills transfer to life outside of camp.

Finally, kids learn that no one is entitled to a life free from difficulty. Camp is a great equalizer, providing challenges for all kids. Camp lets them all star in their own hero’s journey. Instead of letting them give up and go home when the going gets rough, it gives them the opportunity to experience what it is like to dig in.

Camp gives kids the opportunity to see difficulty not just as an inconvenience or injustice, but as a chance for what Campbell calls a “boon,” or dramatic win in the hero’s journey. This gives kids new perspective on life’s challenges—and new strength to deal with them.

There are drawbacks to the hero’s journey, of course. Our kids don’t come home from camp the same: Once they’ve faced down a particularly difficult challenge, they typically have grown so much we might hardly recognize them. But the advantages to developing grit are great, and the “boon” is always worthwhile.

Carter

Christine Carter, Ph.D., is a parent coach and the author of RAISING HAPPINESS: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents and The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work She coaches and teaches online classes in order to help parents bring more joy into their own lives and the lives of their children, and she writes an award-winning blog for parents and couples. She is also a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Sign up for her short weekly Happiness Tips at www.christinecarter.com.

Growing GritRead more about Growing Grit, our 2016 summer theme!

Messages for an Anxious Camper

“Children want to be independent, and they realize that they cannot be truly independent until they beat homesickness, even when they have a painful case of it.”
– Michael Thompson, PhD., Homesick and Happy

Recently I spoke with a mom whose 11-year-old son is coming to camp in a few days.  He’s nervous.  He had a negative experience at a one-week science camp.  He doesn’t think he can “make it for two weeks” and is worried he’ll be too homesick to make it at camp.   I chatted with the mom and gave her some key messages to communicate to her son.  She asked for them in bullet points in an email, and I thought there are probably others who might benefit from this same list, so I’m sharing this with anyone who has a child suffering from pre-camp anxiety.

Before I share my list, let me say that if you are not a camp proponent and don’t plan on sending your child to camp, you should probably not read any further.  I am a huge supporter of camp and just yesterday had a CIT (Counselor in Training) tell me that “Camp made her who she is today.”  So, I think that camp is a great thing for building kids’ independence and confidence.  I have also seen many kids work through some pretty painful emotions at camp, so I know that camp is not easy for all kids.

We have 7-year-olds at our camp who do great during our two-week sessions.   They are the ones who’ve begged their parents to let them come to camp and generally have older siblings who’ve attended camp.   I also talk to a lot of parents with older kids who “aren’t sure if they’re ready for
camp.”   One thing I’ve learned after close to three decades at camp is that the same kids who are anxious and hesitant about going to camp when they’re nine or ten will still be anxious when they’re 13.  And they may not be interested in going away to college when they’re 18, either.

So, as a parent, you need to decide how to approach your child’s separation anxiety, as well as your own.  You can avoid it and not send them to camp and hope that they develop independence in other ways, which is definitely possible.  Or, you can bite the bullet, give them these positive messages, and send them off to camp with a smile, knowing that it may be hard for them, but they will grow from the experience.

In Michael Thompson, PhD.’s book Homesick and Happy, he says “It is the very challenge of camp that makes it such a life-changing experience for so many children.”  I know there are many parents and children who just can’t stomach the idea of going through some painful time apart.  Again, you need not read further if you are not sending your reluctant child to camp.

This post is for those of you who have decided that your child is going to camp, and especially for those of you who had a previously excited camper who is now having last-minute camp anxiety.   Here are some messages you can give prior to dropping your camper at the bus or at camp.  Pick and choose, and of course use your own words, but acknowledge your child’s feelings and empathize with them while holding firm in your confidence in their ability to succeed and your belief that camp will be good for them.

Without further ado, here are some messages to give to your anxious camper:

  • Let them know that missing home is okay.  “You may feel homesick, and that’s okay.  A lot of kids feel that way. That just means that you love us and you love home.   I feel homesick when I’m on trips, too.  Missing home is part of life.  But I know you can still have fun at camp, even if you feel sad sometimes.”
  • Reassure them that there are people at camp who will take care of their needs. “There are adults at camp (counselors, directors) who are there to take care of you and help you with anything you need.  They can help with things you normally come to me about.  Let them know if you are feeling sad, and they can help you.  They have lots of experience working with kids who are away from home for the first time.”
  • Talk with your child honestly about the importance of starting to develop some independence.   Something along the lines of:  “It may seem like a long way off, but in a few years, you’ll be ready for college.  I want you to feel confident in your ability to live away from me, so that you can choose any school you like, even if it’s far away from home.  Think of camp like your practice time for when you’re older and ready to move away for school or a job.  You’ll get better at being independent by starting now, when you’re young, with short spurts of time away.  Some kids aren’t doing well when they start college because they don’t have any experience being away from home.  I want you to feel great when you go to college, because you’ll know that you’ve already been successful with short camp stays.”
  • Share the reality that many good things in life come with some pain and failure.  If you have a story from your own life of something that you had to work hard at or had to go through difficulties in order to master, this is a great time to share.   Something along the lines of, “Many good things in life aren’t easy at first.  Learning a new sport or trying something new is really hard.   Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to discover something you really love.  If you never go through anything hard, you’re going to miss out on some great experiences.  The first few days of camp may be hard, and that’s okay.  I know you’ll work through it and figure out what makes you feel better.  I have confidence in you, and I am so proud of you for going to camp and trying this new adventure!
  • Let them know that you are confident in them.  “I am so excited that you get to go to camp this year.  I know it’s going to be such a great experience for you and that you are ready for this.”   If you went to camp, share with your camper what you liked about it and how you grew from the experience.
  • Make sure they know you want to hear about everything.  “Every day comes with its good and bad parts.  When you’re at camp, I want you to write me letters and tell me all of the stuff that you’re doing and feeling.  If you feel homesick at rest time, tell me about it, and also tell me what you did to help yourself.  Did you talk to your counselor?  Keep yourself busy playing cards with friends?  Write me a letter?  I also want you to share good stuff.  Did you get your favorite food for lunch?  Try rock climbing?  Get up on a knee board?  I want to hear both the good and bad things about camp in your letters.”
  • If your camper asks you if you will pick him up if he’s sad, you need to let him know that you are not going to pick him up early.  “Even if you’re a little homesick for the whole time you’re at camp, you’re going to feel so much better about the experience if you stick it out and make the best of it.  Most kids feel better after a few days of getting settled in and adjusted, and I know you’ll feel great once you let yourself relax and just start enjoying all the fun things at camp.  I’m not going to pick you up early, no matter what, because I know you will feel really proud of yourself for making it through camp, even if you have some hard days.”

In Homesick and Happy, Thompson says, “Homesickness is not a psychiatric illness.  It is not a disorder.  It is the natural, inevitable consequence of leaving home.  Every child is going to feel it, more or less, sooner or later.  Every adult has had to face it and overcome it at some point in life … If you cannot master it, you cannot leave home.”

I would like to note that you do not need to use all of these messages but instead choose the ones you think will resonate most with your child.  What’s most important is that you express confidence in your child and in the camp experience.    These same messages would be great as responses to a sad letter you receive from your camper.

I always tell the kids that the fun and happy feelings at camp usually far outweigh any sad feelings.  Many kids tell me they “don’t feel homesick at all,” but there are some who struggle, especially during their first summer.  Those kids seem to grow the most and feel the most pride in their accomplishment of staying at camp.   If you are feeling worried about how your child will do at camp, know that you are giving your child a precious gift  by allowing them this special time where they get to grow their wings.

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Meet Our Staff: Kettle

I-8363Kettle is returning to Gold Arrow Camp for her second year as a Group Counselor this summer! She is an engaging, positive, fun counselor, and we’re excited to welcome her back to camp soon!

Kettle is from Gaithersburg, Maryland, and she is attending the University of Maryland where she is studying Kinesiology with a certificate in Public Health. She currently volunteers for the Children’s Development Clinic, is a campus tour guide, and interns for the TerpAccess Disability Network, an organization that provides services and trainings to make the campus more accessible.

Kettle is a positive, passionate, kind, funny person who spent last summer caring for our youngest campers. Her campers describe her as fun, energetic, encouraging, and silly – a few campers even made comments like “she made me laugh really hard,” “when I was scared, she encouraged me,” and “she inspires me.” Kettle will always be the first to hop up and start dancing, no matter the time of day or camp activity, which is one of the reasons both campers and counselors love being around Kettle’s bright, fun personality.

We asked Kettle some questions about camp and other things – see what she had to say!

  1. What do you like most about camp?

    I love how camp brings out people’s goofy side! Where else can you scream good morning to all your neighbors, dance your way through a salad bar line, and cover yourself in mud on a regular basis?
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  2. Why did you want to return to camp this summer?

    Apart from the beautiful location, awesome staff, and fun activities, the main reason I wanted to return to camp was because of the campers. I can’t wait to catch up with my old campers and meet my new cabin groups!

  3. If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

    I would be a sea otter so I could splash around with my friends and float on my back all day!

  4. If you could eat ice cream anywhere in the world, what type of ice cream would it be and where?

    I would eat vanilla ice cream with tons of fun toppings (including lots and lots of caramel) while on a hot air balloon safari over Africa with friends.

  5. What is your favorite joke?

    What is a chip’s favorite dance move? The dip!

  6. What is your favorite camp memory?

    Some of my fondest camp memories are the looks on campers’ faces when they get up on knee/ski/wake for the first time and the whole cabin goes crazy in the boat!

  7. If you were a breakfast food, what breakfast food would you be? Why?

    I think I would be a waffle! Waffles are homey, supportive (perfect if you want to build a castle out of your breakfast), and they brighten people’s day when they are served at camp!

  8. What are you most excited about this summer?

    I am most excited to spend my summer surrounded by amazing people in a place that I love! I am eager to continue to learn from others and to build incredible relationships while being disconnected from technology. And of course for all of the Bear Trap fun! And Pajama Breakfast! And pickles at Carnival! And Shaver! The list of things I am excited for could go on forever.

Want to meet more 2016 GAC Staff? Head over to the Meet Our Staff page!

Meet Our Staff: Bambino!

Bambino1Bambino, a Group Counselor, is joining us for his second season at GAC!

Bambino is originally from Modesto, California, and he is currently finishing his final year at California State University, Fresno. He is studying Political Science and Sports Coaching. Bambino is involved in intramural sports and works as a referee for youth sports programs. In his free time, Bambino enjoys playing sports, running, and trips to the beach and the mountains. This fall, Bambino will be starting the Sports Psychology Masters program at Fresno State. He wants to pursue a career in coaching and teaching young people.

We love Bambino’s energetic, outgoing personality.  His campers describe him as fun, encouraging, motivational, and optimistic. One camper said, “he helped me get over my fear of heights that I’ve had my whole life.” Bambino always has a bright smile on his face. You can usually find him in the middle of all the action, ready and excited for any activity. Bambino’s cabin will most likely be the first onstage dancing before Morning Assembly or Big Campfire.

We asked Bambino some questions about camp and other things – see what he has to say!

  1. Why did you choose to return to GAC for a second summer?Bambino 4

    The biggest reason I want to go back to camp is the quality of relationships I formed last summer with campers and counselors, and I want to build new relationships and strengthen old ones again this summer. I want to focus on campers and staff, to make sure that everyone is having the best experience they can. There’s a lot of room to grow at camp, and camp helps you become the best person you can be. This summer I’m looking forward to working on myself to become a better leader, counselor, and friend.

  2. What is your favorite part of camp?

    Shaver! My favorite part of camp is when my cabin goes to Shaver. It’s a great break from camp, away from any outside distractions, and we spend a lot of time bonding with each other. At Shaver, campers and counselors are learning how to be good people, how to build REALationships; it’s a crucial part of the camp experience.
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  3. If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

    I would be an elephant because I’m strong, intelligent, loyal to the group, and when I’m in the mindset, I’m ready to achieve any goal I set.

  4. What advice do you have for campers coming to camp for the first time?

    Don’t be afraid to be yourself, or to go out of your comfort zone to try something new. Every experience at camp is a new experience, and you have to be willing to be open and embrace new things to really have the best time at camp.

  5. Describe your perfect pizza.

    You need a good sauce and a good ratio of cheese-to-sauce. I prefer a 2:1 ratio of sauce to cheese. Then throw on all the toppings – the more, the better! Pepperoni, sausage, chicken, bell peppers, mushrooms, basil, and a couple onions. Then the crust. It needs to be really bready with butter and not too crunchy, just right!

  6. What are you most excited for this summer at camp?

    Bambino 3I’m so excited to see all the campers again, seeing old friends and building new relationships. I want to take all the experiences I had last summer and use them to make myself a better counselor. I want to focus a lot on growing as a leader this summer. During campfire, my co-counselor and I would ask questions and listen as our campers gave us really great answers; we had a lot of meaningful conversations at night around the campfire, and I’m looking forward to ending every great day at camp with my cabin around a campfire.

  7. If you could pick any one in the world to host Morning Assembly, who would it be and why?

    John Wooden (former Purdue basketball player and UCLA Bruins Head Coach). He would bring a lot of passion and energy to Morning Assembly, and he would teach campers and counselors life lessons. Just watching him do Morning Assembly would be great for the entire GAC environment because he’s so inspirational!

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Want to meet more 2016 GAC Staff? Head over to the Meet Our Staff page!

Big Campfire Skit Night

Big Campfire is an event on Saturday night, in the middle of each two-week session (and on Thursday night of Mini Camp). The entire camp joins together at the camp amphitheater, which is also called “Big Campfire.”  Each cabin group presents a song, a skit, a poem, an interpretive dance, an unusual skill, a dramatic reading, or anything else creative. This is a great opportunity for campers to show their creativity, and the entire cabin joins along to prepare for the upcoming event. Since the whole group is on the stage, it’s fun and unpredictable sometimes. Big Campfire has been a Gold Arrow Camp tradition since camp’s early days!

Meet Our Staff: Yorkie!

 

Yorkie-9361We’re excited to welcome Yorkie back for his seventh summer at GAC! Yorkie will be the Rock Yorkie-7103Climbing and Ropes Course Director, so you’ll see him rocking around camp all summer long! In his previous summers at camp, Yorkie has been an Activity Counselor and a Head Counselor. By now he definitely knows camp! If you have any questions about camp, Yorkie is the one to ask!

Yorkie is currently working in Pocklington in the United Kingdom, just outside of York, where he is working as a teaching assistant to gain more experience for his role as a teacher in September. Yorkie loves working with people, especially in an outdoor and sporty environment. He also enjoys playing football (we call English football soccer!), traveling the world, hanging out with friends, rock climbing and challenging himself on the high ropes course (of course!). Yorkie is currently coaching a 7th grade soccer (err, football) team, but he can’t wait to be back at camp soon!

We asked Yorkie some very pressing questions. Check out his answers!

What do you like most about camp?

The most incredible thing about Gold Arrow Camp is the people. The campers, the staff, every single person makes Gold Arrow Camp a second home to every person lucky enough to spend their summers there.

What makes you return to camp every summer?

I absolutely love camp, just being out in the outdoors, working with such amazing people and awesome kids! The whole experience is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to leave your comfort zone, and your mobile phone, and have a summer where you can just be yourself.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a superpower, what superpower would you want to have?

If I could have any superpower, I would have the power to travel huge distances in seconds, and visit everyone I’ve ever met at camp! That and the ability to create a summer that never ends!

What is your favorite camp memory?

The first time I saw the sunset at the rock at Valhalla, it took my breath away and made me realize what a special place GAC is.

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If you could eat any ice cream any place in the world, what ice cream and where?

It would have to be Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food at the top of Mushroom Rock, a nearby mountain to camp where you can see for miles!

What advice would you give a camper coming to camp for the first time?

It is okay to be nervous, it would be silly not to be, but just know that all the counselors and the returning campers are there to help, and you will make some of the best friends you’ll ever have at camp.

If you had your own country, what would it be called?

My own country would be called GACtopia, a country where it could be camp every day!

What are you most excited about for GAC 2016??

Every year I’ve been at camp has been better than the last, and I’m simply looking forward to getting back to my home-away-from-home and leaving all the stresses and pressures back in the UK! Also meeting new friends and seeing old friends.

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Want to meet more 2016 GAC Staff? Head over to the Meet Our Staff page!

5 Things

One of our favorite games to play at camp, and one that helps us get to know each other better, is “Five Things.” This game is a lot of fun and would also be a great game to play with your family or friends at home. Here is a video demo of how to play Five Things (which we filmed at GAC’s staff holiday party):

As you can see, it’s a simple game:

1. The person who’s “it” calls out the name of a person and a category. For example, “Cappy!” “Favorite Camp Activities!”

2. Cappy then says one of her favorite activities, and the whole group yells, “1!” At her second activity, the group yells “2!” And this continues until she’s said 5 things.

3. Next, the whole group sings the “Five Things” chorus, which goes: “Five things, five things, five things, five things, FIVE THINGS!”

4. Cappy then picks another person in the group and a category, and the game continues until everyone in the circle has had a chance to list five things.

We hope you enjoy playing Five Things!

 

The Power of Camp

“You’re sending Sophia to camp for TWO WEEKS?”

Shock is a common response parents get when discussing sending their child to sleep-away camp. family-1083They often face criticism for allowing their young child out from under their direct supervision. In this over-involved parenting age, the thought of allowing an eight year old to go away to camp for two weeks is incomprehensible to many parents. What “non-camp” parents don’t understand is that allowing your child to have a camp experience is a gift that has positive, life-long benefits beyond learning how to sail or rock climb. Camp parents aren’t bad parents who “send their children away.” They are parents who see the value in letting their children have an experience that enriches their childhood.

Parents who went to traditional summer camps as children themselves are more likely to send their children to camp compared to other parents. Many of these parents still keep in touch with camp friends and worked as camp counselors during college. They understand the life-long benefits they gained from their camp experiences and want the same thing for their kids. Experienced camp parents need not read further. This article is for parents who want to know why many families choose to send their children to sleep away camp.

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A Taste of Independence

family-3056Being super-involved with our children and always being in constant communication with them has become something modern parents brag about. But when do we start letting go and giving our kids a chance to feel independent from us? With cell phones attached at our (and their) hips, our children are in constant communication with us. Forgot their lunch? A friend says something mean? Stubbed their toe? We know right away and swoop in to rescue them.

Intuitively, we know that it’s better to let our kids deal with consequences from their mistakes, face some problems on their own, and get through the day without us, but it’s SO HARD to let them. We feel fortunate to have a close relationship with our child and we don’t want to jeopardize that relationship by turning off our phone or saying “no.” It’s difficult to let them face a problem or bad day at school on their own. Unfortunately, we are setting our kids up for much more difficulty later in life if we don’t start letting them have some independence when they are younger.
Camp experiences at younger ages may help children adjust to later independent experiences, including college. A Stanford Magazine (May/June, 2009) article called “Students on the Edge” published results of research on the psychological health of current University students:
“Unlike previous generations, young people often speak with their parents several times a day. And while family closeness is usually a positive force, it can come with a downside. Administrators at Stanford and elsewhere describe a level of parental involvement that often limits choices and has altered the cultural norms of college life. That includes parents who insist on choosing their child’s area of study and then show up to negotiate his or her salary after graduation.”

Sleep away camps, especially those that do not allow cell phones and phone calls, offer a great opportunity for kids to develop independence in a supportive, safe setting away from their parents. Some parents today think that it’s a comforting thought that their child may end up living with them, or at least calling every day, well into adulthood. Most of us know, however, that when you truly love your children and want the best for them, you need to give them more freedom, responsibilities, and independence as they grow through their different stages of childhood and into adulthood.

These words of a first-time sleep away camp parent are especially poignant:

“My shy, quiet nine year old went to camp not knowing a soul. Two weeks later, my daughter came home transformed. She blossomed, she made friends, learned a multitude of activities, felt safe, loved, confident, and happy, really happy. As hard as it was on me, it was all worth it for her. I know this is the single best thing I have ever done for her.” – 2014 Camp Parent

First-time camp experiences are much harder on parents than they are on kids. The relief parents feel when they see their child after a camp stay is palpable, and the amazement at their child’s growth is an equally strong emotion. The independence kids experience at camp can open their eyes to many new dreams and opportunities, and may lead to them feeling more confident about pursuing schools, travels, and adventures further from home. Although it’s hard to let kids go, the words of singer Mark Harris sum up what most parents dream of for their children:
“It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky. I’ll have tears as you take off, but I’ll cheer you as you fly.”

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