2022 Camper Phone Calls
Have you ever left the house without your cell phone? As liberating as it may feel, we have grown accustomed to using our phones like an appendage. Our children have never had days without cell phones, while most of us parents lived much of our lives without one. Feels very strange to even imagine that we all survived without a phone. When Ephram and I were kids, we didn’t talk to our parents on the phone very often. After spending the day at school, and doing after school activities, most of us caught up when we met at home for dinner. If we were out somewhere and had to call home, we searched for a quarter so we could call from a pay phone. One conversation I remember from my childhood was getting to call home from my teen tour. I was having the best time, but as soon as I heard my parent’s voice, I had to choke back the tears. My description of the most amazing time away didn’t match the emotions of my voice.
As directors of Camp Wekeela, that memory comes to mind as we try to explain our hesitance about having phone calls at camp. We are a no electronics camp, we don’t allow cell phones, tablets, or anything with connectivity to wifi. In the past, we have allowed one call home, and this summer we will give parents the option of a call. We have published this in our materials, and we will not take that away at this late time. However, we will be thinking about changing this policy for 2023, and we will try to explain why.
We know this is not what you want to hear, but just continue to hear us out. During the call, if your child has even the slightest feelings of homesickness they will get very upset and the homesickness will escalate. Most campers who were having a great time right before a call may get that same choked up feeling that I did as a teen. They may even start to cry, despite the fact that they were absolutely wonderful prior to that call. Imagine how challenging that is for the counselors who take care of your child. Imagine how the call can actually take a child back to the day they separated from you. We fully respect parents’ needs and wishes. You’re always welcome to call our team if you have any concerns, and we will make sure you get the information you are seeking. We post hundreds of pictures daily, and we offer an email service so you can write back and forth with your child.
Can you see how eliminating the parent phone call can give both parents and our campers a slice of independence? Think about the beauty of a world in which your kids cannot use anything electronic – they make friends, they solve problems, and they look at each other eye to eye. That skill is so important. Children laugh and cry together, they become socially aware and take the many cues that they need to have successful relationships. You can ask any returning family if this is true. I cannot begin to tell you how much I am looking forward to our weekly campfire. We sit around as an entire community singing songs and telling stories and most importantly making memories of a lifetime. The skills the children learn are so comprehensive, they do not even realize they are learning them within the context of our fun factory. Your child will blossom and learn to navigate social situations like nowhere else. We know that camp is critical right now; we have been living in a pandemic, we are tethered to our screens, socialization has really been compromised these past few years. Self confidence and problem solving is something that really can be learned better at camp than anywhere else.
So what does this have to do with the one phone call that we are offering? Please take time to think about whether you want to opt in for a call. You will have a choice and we will honor that choice. But in all seriousness, the calls can be tough. Many children save the worst for their calls. They have a few minutes to establish intimacy with their parents and sometimes in order to elicit empathy, something very small may end up becoming big on that call. Having been at camp for 26 years, we can assure you that if something big were happening, we would have called you way before that phone call happened. Philosophically, allowing campers to speak on the phone to their parents is counter-productive to the goals of camp, which are to encourage campers to be self advocates and independent. This may be hard to hear but it really is the truth. If a child is homesick, hearing a parent’s voice usually makes things worse, not better.
If you choose to have the call this summer here are some tips for you:
NEVER MAKE A DEAL with your child to bring him home. This undermines your child’s sense that you have confidence in their abilities to be on their own, while setting an expectation that he won’t like camp.
Stay positive! Please do not tell them how upset you are without them and what they are missing out on.
Tell your child that you love them AND that you know they are going to have a great experience, because they will.
Encourage your child to share whatever is on their mind with the counselors, Head Counselor and/or the administration what they seem to be saving for that call. We can help your child much better if they speak directly with us.
Ask about the activities, friends, and fun at camp. Staying busy is the best way for your camper to take her mind off of missing home.
Remind yourself that camp is a process and that we need time to work with each camper. Results do not happen overnight. But camp is a gift and it is one of the best ones you can ever give.
For the summer of 2022, we are allowing one call per camper, no matter the session. The call will be for a maximum of 10 minutes. Many parents have called over the school year and have said that although they feel guilty about it, they do not want a phone call. We have heard that it upsets them and their campers and it is disruptive to the camp process; especially given the fact that there are emails that are exchanged with your child. So there is a constant stream of information being exchanged. Calls are scheduled for a specific time, but just keep in mind your child might end up being pulled from an activity so they may be rushing off the phone to get back to the fun – do not get upset if they do this – it is the best indicator that they are having a blast and establishing a bit of independence.
If you opt in for a phone call, they will begin July 6th for 1st session, July 28th for second session, and the 7 weekers can choose to do a call in either the first or second session. Rookie campers will not be allotted a call due to their shortened schedule, there is literally no time for a call.
You are also given an opportunity to opt out. Do not feel guilty about this, after reading this you probably get the gist that we do not think calls benefit either parents or children.
Phone calls will be scheduled on a first come first served basis. If you have not completed your forms at this time, your preference for a call will be put on the bottom of the pile – we have been asking for forms to be filled out for months and they were due May 1st.
Your camper(s) will be calling you on the day and time you have chosen from the phone call request form that is attached. You MUST give us the telephone number you want your camper to call you on and you must make sure they can reach you at your appointed time. We supply cell phones for the camper phone calls.
Allowable number of phone calls by session for 2022:
Full Session: 1 Calls
First Session: 1 Call
Second Session: 1 Call
Rookie session: 0
Below are the options and time slots for phone calls. Please pick your top 3 choices. The sooner your request is received, the better chance you have of getting your preferred phone call time.
We will email you with your call time and day.
Phone calls will run from 1:30 to 2:30 and 4:30 to 6:00.
Siblings will be scheduled at the same time for our scheduling purposes only. They will each have 7 minutes maximum for their phone call. Parents not living together must schedule separately and will each get 5 minutes for their phone call. Please fill in a separate form with a time slot for parents not living together. Phone calls are only allowed at the scheduled time, no exceptions. Phone calls are for parents/guardians only, not extended family or friends.