Camp Wekeela’s Emotional Packing List for Parents
Last spring we were fortunate enough to meet one of the world’s best mind’s on childhood. As big of a camp champion as you will ever meet, Wendy Mogel, PhD, truly understands and knows the power that summer camp can have on children. Dr. Mogel is an author of several parenting books, including, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, The Blessing of a B Minus, and most recently, Voice Lessons for Parents: What to Say, When to Say It, and When to Listen, “help parents and other child caregivers avoid the pitfalls of perfectionism, overprotection, overscheduling, and overindulgence, and engage with children in ways that nurture, enrich, and encourage.” In her lecture that we attended about Voice Lessons, Dr. Mogel gave some wonderful insight into the language and manner in which we as parents, childhood professionals, and camp directors speak with all children.
Dr. Mogel’s recent interview “Voice Lessons for Camp” with Camping Magazine sparked our interest. In the interview, Dr. Mogel said she wished that camps provide parents with a set of things that they would be worried about… but shouldn’t. What she called, an emotional packing list. We thought it was as great idea, so decided to make one for our Wekeela families. Below you will find our comprehensive list of “Camp Wekeela’s Emotional Packing List for Parents”
Do you have any communication advice for camp professionals in talking with parents?
I want camps to prepare parents, talk about things they are going to be worried about but don’t need to be. Give parents an emotional packing list before camp starts. Camp directors may fear that if they name the worries, parents will start ruminating on them, but it normalizes and nationalizes the fear. You can say, “You’re going to worry about this and this. Here’s what we have in place to deal with that. Expect your children to voice their concerns.” Then tell them the high rate of returning campers you have.
Things you may be worried about but do not need to be…..
Who takes care of my child when I send them to camp?
Counselors, cabin leaders, peers, nurses, directors– we all take care of each other.
How do you screen your applicants?
Interviews, references, criminal background checks.
Do the counselors live in the bunks with the children and what is the supervision like?
Yes, there are at least 6 counselors per bunk, and they sleep in the cabin. There is always an adult with the campers.
Is there security from outsiders?
Yes, there are gates at each entrance.
What happens if my child gets hurt?
We have a health center run by nurses & EMT’s. There are two major hospitals nearby.
What happens if my child gets sick?
We have them see a doctor if necessary, and sleep in the health center. You will be notified.
What if my child gets homesick?
It’s expected. Our counselors are trained to deal with homesickness, and the friends in the cabin also are a big help. We have parent liaisons, head counselor, and campus leaders if needed.
How will I communicate with my child?
We use our WekeelaNotes system. The system converts emails written by parents into letters, and the campers will have the opportunity to read and reply by writing directly onto the reply sheets. The replies are scanned and sent back to you as emails. In addition to this system, parents will have one phone call per session and we upload many photos that are incredibly reassuring.
Will my child make friends at summer camp?
YES! Everyone makes friends at Camp Wekeela.
How do you monitor what my child is eating?
We eat family style, as a cabin with our counselors. The counselors make sure every child eats a balanced, healthy meal.
If there is something I need to know, who contacts me and how?
The parent liaison, campus leaders, head counselors or director will contact you. We will always have an open line of communication with you.
What happens when I send my child via your transportation?
When you arrive to our transportation, each mode of transportation is led by trained counselors. We use coach busses and planes and their journey safely begins as soon as you drop them off.
How do their duffel bags get unpacked?
A week before camp begins, the duffels are picked up at your home and then sent via Camp Trucking (USA) right to camp. Your child’s counselors unpack all their belongings, bedding, toiletries, etc. and set up the cabin. That way when your child comes to camp, they have nothing to do but make friends and have fun!
What if I am missing my child?
It’s natural. You can write/email them, look at our pictures, and tell yourself this is the best gift you can give your child.
How can I tell from the pictures if my child is having a good time? What if he/she isn’t in enough pictures?
Don’t scrutinize the photos, you will get anxious if you do that. If for any reason your child is having a problem, we would contact you.
What if my child’s clothes aren’t as fashionable as the other kids’ or aren’t brand name?
Camp is for getting dirty and having fun. Please don’t pack expensive, fancy, or special clothing. Your best option is Wekeela wear.
How will my child survive without me telling them to brush, clean, eat well, and behave?
The counselors are trained to be surrogate parents. They will do all of these things.
Should I offer a “deal” to my child that I will pick them up early if they aren’t enjoying camp?
Never offer a deal or negotiation–it will backfire. Even if your child loves camp, they will never get past the offer of a deal.
If I don’t send my child packages with their favorite candy and gifts, won’t they feel as though we aren’t thinking about them?
We don’t let packages with food due to severe allergies on camp. If you must send a package– books or things to play with are preferred (cards, games).
What if my child doesn’t “fit in”?
Every child fits in to Wekeela. We have the most incredible, welcoming and wonderful campers. The staff make sure each child feels special and cared for.
These are some examples of questions, thoughts, and worries that parents may have when sending their precious cargo to summer camp. Camp is a place of love, learning, growth, and magic. Each of these can be answered in a manner where a parent can get to know a little bit of our philosophy. Many kids surprise even themselves by doing independent and positive things at camp that they would never do during the school year. Camp is one of the most wonderful gifts that you can give your child and we are happy to help you along the way here at Camp Wekeela.
Of course there are so many questions that come to mind for parents. Have any concerns, questions, thoughts we may have missed? Let us know what they are!