End of Summer 2019: What a special year!
At Camp, it’s quiet. There is an eerie sense of calm. We are “campsick.” We miss the children and staff, the smiles, hugs and laughter that we enjoyed all summer.
August is like the Sunday of summer. It is almost impossible to believe that another year of camp has come to an end! Reactions from some of the parents I’ve spoken to range from “Why so fast?!” to “Where did it all go?!” to “WAHHHH!!” Because even though all parents miss their kids while they’re gone, it is also a rare opportunity in the world of parenting to be alone, recharge, or spend time with just one kid at a time (or two, or three … it kind of depends on how many kids you have).
For the campers, it’s a very different kind of experience. Sure, they missed their families, but for a lot of children, leaving camp leaves them deeply saddened. Their hearts are full of a thousand amazing experiences from the summer – making new friends, trying new things, color war events, field trips, campfires – and their hearts are wrenched from knowing the last few days of camp are upon them. Then come the goodbyes, the ride home, and those first few weeks back home, back with screens, away from all their new friends … it can be a tough transition. Some campers experience something called “campsick.” It’s the opposite of homesick (medically, you’re not actually ill). Intense longing to be back at summer camp. Afflicted persons may show a variety of symptoms, including melancholy, reminisce, and attempts to incorporate camp culture into “real world” life. This diagnosis is all too real. Now that summer Twenty-Nineteen is complete, we are here to help children and their parents make the smooth transition from Camp Wekeela to home.
Here are some tips to help ease the re-entry home if you have an out-of-sorts or “campsick” camper:
Ø Let your child rest! Camp is such a busy, active time and campers need lots of rest after they get home. Make sure they don’t have much on their schedule when they return and let them have several days to “chill” and get caught up on sleep. Many emotional and behavioral issues can be solved by a good night’s sleep.
Ø Encourage your child to talk about camp and share stories. Ask open-ended questions about camp (if they seem open to your inquiries).
Ø Have them teach you a camp song or game.
Ø Use the photos on Waldo and the camp’s website to spur conversation and help them remember. Print some photos and make a collage or album with camp memories.
Ø Encourage your camper to keep in touch with camp friends. Some campers like to write “real” letters to each other to keep the communication “campy.” Phone calls and video chats are also a great way to continue the more “face-to-face” connections they made at camp.
Ø Help your child make plans for a visit or reunion with camp friends (or a video chat if that’s all that works).
Ø Suggest your camper write a thank you note to a counselor at camp who made their stay especially fun. Doing something kind for someone else, like writing a thank you note, will make your camper feel happier.
Ø Have a “campfire” in your backyard and roast a s’more.
Ø Plan and do a family outdoor activity together.
Ø Kids and their parents all have transitions – both as camp begins, and as it ends. A positive adjustment back home means kids not only stay connected to camp friends, but also display skills and values for a lifetime.
Ø Talk about camp plans and start a count-down calendar to next summer!
The trick is to keep those memories alive all year round. If you do it right, the glow of camp stays with you until you’re ready to pack up those duffel bags again. And one of the best ways to do that is by keeping connected to your camp family. Whether it’s phone calls, texts, social media, or reunions, staying in touch with the people who understand the pang of leaving camp will make it that much easier to go home. When you have camp friends in your life, you’re never alone, because no matter where you all live, you have your summer home here on the shores of Little Bear Pond in Hartford, Maine to keep you together. Staying in touch with those whom you hold dearest, your camp friends, also gets you through the ups and downs of the school year.
Thank you for another amazin’ summer!
And always remember, in a world where you can be anything, always be kind!
Ephram and Lori Caflun, Directors,