Want to bring some of the fun and connection of GAC home to your family this year?
Creating a close and connected family culture that promotes positive, lifelong relationships is the most important thing we can do for our children. Grab your coffee or tea, login, and join other GAC parents for our first parent coffee of 2022. We’ll learn about and discuss simple, research-based and experience-backed strategies for adding more fun and connection at home.
Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, who will be speaking at this coffee, is Gold Arrow Camp’s Chief Visionary Officer, the author of Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, and the host of the Sunshine Parenting Podcast. Audrey regularly speaks to parents and teachers on the topics of friendship skills, connection, and well-being. See some of her past interviews and events here.
All Gold Arrow Camp parents who register will be entered in our drawing for one of 10 free, signed copies of Happy Campers. Drawing will take place and winners will be notified on January 14, 2022.
Registrants will be sent a recording after the meeting as well as a PDF with the strategies and links we discuss.
Register here to attend the January 19 Parent Coffee and be entered to win a free copy of Sunshine’s book, Happy Campers!
Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults
Listen to Sunshine Parenting Podcast Episode 91: 4 Reasons Not to Worry While Your Kid is at Camp.
Worrying when our kids are away from us is normal for parents. Every time I’ve ever dropped my kids off for a new adventure without me, I’m excited for them. But I’m also concerned about their safety, secretly wishing they would just STAY HOME, then counting the days until they return. I know it’s not rational (few things about parenting are), but I believe my kids are always safest when they’re home with me.
If you are new to sending your kids to summer camp, let me reassure you that while they are away, you can relax your worrying muscles. I’ve spent more than three decades working at a summer camp, sending my kids to other camps, and participating in the networking and training of summer camp professionals. I know A LOT of camp directors, have visited many camps through the American Camp Association accreditation process, and am a faithful reader of Camping Magazine. I definitely know about camp.
In Episode 91 of the Sunshine Parenting Podcast, I chat with my longtime friend, Camp Owner/Director Maria Horner. Maria and her husband, Tom, have been the executive directors of Catalina Island Camps since 1995. In this episode, we discuss four reasons not to worry while your child is at camp.
You have chosen a camp program that’s accredited by the American Camp Association. This means that the camp meets the ACA’s high standards to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for your child.
You have been in touch with the camp director. Always be upfront with any issues your child may be dealing with so that the staff can be prepared to help them. Take time review at all the material that the camp has sent you ahead of time and phone them with any questions you may have.
You have prepared your child for the experience:
You have prepared yourself for the experience:
Want more reasons not to worry? Read this Sunshine Parenting post: 5 Reasons NOT to Worry While Your Kids are at Camp.
Audrey: “One of the reasons not to worry is actually the amount of training we do with our staff.”
Maria: “You chose an accredited camp, so if you’re coming to my camp, or if you’re going to any other camps in your Happy Campers group, those camps are all accredited by the American Camp Association, which means that those camps care enough to undergo a thorough peer review of its operation. And that includes everything from staff quality and training to emergency management–all things that they’re doing voluntarily to ensure that their program is top notch.”
Maria: “Camp professionals from around the country can volunteer to be what we call standards visitors. So every five years, a team of trained standards visitors go into each accredited camp and observe, both through documentation and practices actually in place, based on the identified standards, to see that the camps are in compliance with all of them.”
Maria: “If you’re going to allow me to take care of your child for two or three or four weeks during the summer, I’d actually think it stranger if you don’t want to talk to me first. I would imagine you would want to know who’s the person in charge of the place where your child’s going to be spending a lot of time. Pick up the phone and actually talk to the person who is running the show.”
Maria: “I really encourage parents to be as upfront and transparent about your child as possible. We can do a lot at our camp and we can do it way more successfully when we know in advance. If we have to spend a few days figuring out what’s going on with the kid, either socially or behaviorally, or even with their food issues, that’s time lost. If we knew that up front, we would be able to meet those needs right from the very beginning.”
Maria: “Get online and watch videos from camp. Besides our promotional videos, we have a program with our go-pro cameras and the kids make videos every summer. And that’s a great way to get an insight into what camp looks like through the eyes of our campers.”
Maria: “I think you really want to focus on the fun when you talk with your child. I think definitely engage your child in conversation to get a sense of their excitement level and if there are things that they are nervous about, you work together to develop strategies for the child to be able to address those.”
Maria: “It’s okay for me to be nervous, as a mom. It’s not okay for me to project that onto my child.”
Audrey: “What I really want parents to communicate to their kids is: ‘Hey, at camp there are all these adults there to help you have a great experience. So if you need anything and I’m not there, here are some people you can talk to: your counselor, the camp director Maria, the head counselors.’ I think that if you look on the website, or call the camp, you can find out who those people are. I think that empowering your kid to talk to those people is really important.”
Audrey: “I do think we are very connected with our kids, which is a good thing and close relationships are fantastic. But the dark side is that it makes it a little harder–when your child’s doing something independent from you–for you to have the separation.”
Maria: “One of the things that I often tell parents is to really take advantage of this opportunity. Consider what it means to have some time either just to yourself or for you and your spouse together. That doesn’t happen very often in the craziness of life and raising children.”
Maria: “We tell kids, it’s okay to miss home when you’re at camp. You can miss home and still have fun at camp at the same time. Those two things aren’t in conflict with one another. The same thing is true for the parent’s side. Of course, you miss your child and worry about them. That’s to be expected. And you can still allow them to have this amazing growth experience, even if you’re a little bit nervous.
Audrey: “Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself. Spend some more time on a hobby you haven’t had time for, go out to dinner, go to movies–there’s nothing wrong with that. And actually, you giving your child the gift of a more relaxed, happier parent when they get home from camp is amazing.”
Maria: “It okay to have an incredible experience not all together. It’s okay to let your child do fun things without you and it’s okay to do fun things without them.”
Audrey: “It’s always this kind of mixed bag; you’re excited for your kid when they have some new adventure or get some great job far away, but then you’re also like, ‘Oh bummer. They’re kind of far away.’ I think always keeping these things in mind that it’s okay to have both feelings.”
5 Reasons NOT to Worry While Your Kids are at Camp
100 Questions about Summer Camp
Why choose an ACA accredited camp?
What are good questions to ask when selecting a camp program?
Ep. 10: Homesick & Happy with Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
Ep. 76: Partnering with Your Child’s Camp Director
Ep. 37: How to Prepare for Overnight Summer Camp
Ep. 87: The Impact of Camp Experiences
How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims
How Camp Helps Parents Raise Adults
Ep. 22: Jedi Mom Tricks, Part 1
Ep. 33: Jedi Mom Tricks, Part 2
Ep. 42: Jedi Mom Tricks, Part 3
Podcast originally published at Sunshine Parenting.
Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, MA, has been the owner of Gold Arrow Camp since 1989 and currently serves as the Chief Visionary Officer. In addition to her vision-casting and mentoring at GAC, Sunshine is an author (Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults), podcast host, speaker and coach on the topics of parenting, social skills, and happiness. Find out more at her website, Sunshine Parenting.
LISTEN TO “THE MAGIC OF CAMP,” AN EXCERPT FROM HAPPY CAMPERS.
Inspiring and irresistibly practical! Happy Campers is a post-millennial parenting treasure–brimming with dozens of essential, achievable and transformative parenting strategies. Laugh and cry with Audrey Monke as she masterfully distills a lifetime of professional camp director wisdom that will guide your family to great joy and fun together while becoming more deeply optimistic, communicative, resilient, adaptable, socially competent and emotionally confident.
-Tom Rosenberg, American Camp Association
About five years into her parenting journey, our very own Audrey “Sunshine” Monke realized it was time to take some best practices from camp into her home – knowing that connection, positive parenting, fostering independence, grit, and kindness – all things we do at camp – are things that can help build a stronger bond between parents and children at home, and just make life at home more fun! That’s why she wrote Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults – to provide a resource parents could use for years to help families connect and thrive.
We are excited to announce that, just in time for summer, Sunshine’s book Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults is now available from Audible! Download your copy today and learn how to bring the fun of camp into your home!
Let HAPPY CAMPERS serve as a resource to help you better connect with your kids, create a positive family culture, and use through the years to coach your kids to grow their kindness, optimism, grit, responsibility, independence, and friendship skills, the way we do at camp.
Sign up here for immediate access to Happy Campers resources, including Sunshine’s most popular READY FOR ADULTHOOD & SOCIAL SKILLS checklists, Questions for Connection, a Family Meeting Agenda, and a 9-Week Read-Along guide with free, printable resources just in time to kick off your summer!
With this book, parents can bring home the magic of camp and learn all the simple secrets the counselors use to build meaningful relationships that will help your child grow and meet their fullest potential as young adults.
Dr. Jim Sears, Pediatrician
Audrey “Sunshine” Monke, MA, has been the owner of Gold Arrow Camp since 1989 and currently serves as the Chief Visionary Officer. In addition to her vision-casting and mentoring at GAC, Sunshine is an author (Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults), Host of the Sunshine Parenting podcast, speaker and coach on the topics of parenting, social skills, and happiness. Find out more at her website, Sunshine Parenting.
Visit Sunshine Parenting for more resources for raising kids who become thriving adults.
Camp Directors Audrey “Sunshine” Monke (Gold Arrow Camp) and Sara “Salsa” Kuljis (Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp) can’t do their all-day in-person workshop this fall, but they are offering an amazing online course with ten, easily-digestible 30-minute lessons, two live coaching calls, and a TON of resources (more than 40 pages in our downloadable workbook)! Join “Sunshine” and “Salsa” this fall for strategies, inspiration, and some much-needed laughs. Course starts in mid-October and videos will be available for you to watch or listen whenever you have time.
Join Audrey “Sunshine” Monke and Sara Kuljis for a 1-Day LIVE parenting workshop in Newport Beach, California.
• Creating the Family Culture You Want by learning how to move your actions closer to your values and determining what kind of family you want to build.
• Raising Successful, Thriving Kids means defining what success for your kids looks like, what character traits you seek to foster, and how to help them become thriving adults.
• Building Your Positive Parenting Toolbox that includes skills like Authoritative Parenting, Connection Before Correction, Play & Fun, and the Power of Affirmation.
• Loving The Child You Have by harnessing the power of Positive Language – Behavior Management, Calming Skills for Ourselves & Our Kids – Internal Chatter, Empathy, and Compassion.
• A signed copy of Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults
• A binder full of parenting resources and activities to support you in raising thriving kids
• Four follow-up group Zoom coaching calls with Audrey and Sara
• Discussions & advice that will improve your parenting and make your family life happier and more connected