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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Episode 88 (Epilogue): Summer Camp!

Tonight’s show focused on the joys of summer camp, and how we can set our little ones up for success by giving them experience of an extended sleep away camp. We joined Laura and Cheryl, who discussed their own experiences with summer- Cheryl reminisced about her own experiences as a camper, while Laura expressed her joy (but also nervousness!) about sending her own child to camp in the upcoming weeks. We were joined by Dr. Michael Thompson and Tracy Bachmann. Michael Thompson, Ph.D. is a consultant, author and psychologist specializing in children and families. He has worked in more than five hundred schools across the United States, as well as in international schools in Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Dr. Thompson is also the author of Homesick and Happy: How Children Change and Grow When They Are Away from Their Parents. Dr. Thompson serves on the board of the American Camping Association and is on the Advisory Board of Parent Magazine.Tracy Bachmann only spent one week at Girl Scout Camp growing up, but she luckily married into the family who owns and operates one of the oldest private boy's camps in the country, Camp Highlands for Boys.
We started the show by discussing the independence and freedom that camps offers as a unique counter to children’s lives at home. Michael argued that camp is a wonderful way to combat “over-parenting,” and to give children and chance to create their own identities in a space separate from Mom and Dad. This separation from family, while beneficial to children, brought up another issues that is a concern for many parents: homesickness. Michael and Tracy discussed steps for knowing how children are ready for camp, and also discussed how to identify what’s “normal” when considering homesickness. Michael imparted some wisdom which may be particularly beneficial for parents who are concerned about their children’s homesickness, noting that missing home means you have a home you love! Tracy pointed out that it is also important to remember that staff at good sleep away camps will be trained to deal with homesickness, and have often been homesick campers themselves at one point.

Our discussion closed on how parent’s can find the camp that’s right for their children. Michael emphasized the importance of meeting a camp’s director. Laura discussed the high cost of camp, and our guests noted that not only is camp a great way to prepare for a child’s time in college, as being away from home may help them prepare, but also discussed the wide variety of different summer camps at different price points. Michael also mentioned that the American Camp Association offers scholarships for campers who may need some financial assistance.

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