1. STAY POSITIVE. As Opening Day approaches, you may be having conflicting emotions...happy yet bittersweet; excited but worried: please don’t burden your child with your fears or concerns! Always be positive and upbeat when discussing camp.
2. LISTEN: Whether this is your child’s first year at camp or they’ve attended before, they are likely having conflicting emotions, too. If your child expresses concerns, fears or reservations about coming to camp, reassure them that these feelings are completely okay and understandable. Listen to any concerns your child might be having and call us to ask questions about ANYTHING!
3. DON’T MAKE A PICK-UP DEAL. While it might be tempting to appease a nervous child, please NEVER offer or agree to pick your child up if they don’t like it. We have found that this is the least effective response to those last-minute jitters (and actually can be harmful to your child’s ability to adjust and commit to the wonderful camp experience!)
4. ENLIST A FRIEND, NEIGHBOR, RELATIVE. Have “camp veterans” reach out to your child. Or call us for names of other new campers or local families. Sometimes just knowing there will be a familiar face can be reassuring.
5. BE A COACH, NOT A RESCUER. Reiterate and explore with your camper why you chose CYJ, focus on all the positive aspects (friends, activities, being outdoors, new experiences), and have them problem-solve with you what they would do in different scenarios. Since you will not be there to handle every problem, they need confidence to self-advocate.
6. NO SUCH THING AS “OVER SHARING.” The more we know about your child, the better we can help them. Feel free to call us before camp and be sure your confidential form provides all the information about your child. Social dynamics, medical or mental-health concerns, big changes at school or in your family…please tell us before camp.
7. HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ABOUT COMMUNICATION. Please don’t provide your child with a lengthy list of people they “must” write to this summer or demand that they write to you every day. We have “letter writing day” three times a week. Please be sure to write to your child a few times a week, either by mail or through our Bunk1 email program. Keep it light: Send cartoons, stickers, funny cards, etc. Please DO NOT share bad or upsetting news in a letter or email.
8. DON’T WORRY TOO MUCH! Camp, like life, has ups and downs: it’s a great place to work on coping skills, improve resiliency and flexibility, gain experience dealing with others, manage both disappointment and success. It’s not surprising that kids will write to parents for advice and sympathy, without realizing the impact on you (and by the time you get the letter, the situation has likely been resolved). When you get a letter that concerns you, take a deep breath and call us…we want to know what your child is telling you. If we have concerns about your child, we will contact you. Of course, feel free to call us to check in on your child periodically, whether you’re getting letters that are upbeat, hard to decipher, etc….
9. PLAN FOR A SPEEDY DROP-OFF AND WEAR SUNGLASSES. Help make the bed, meet the counselors and hold back the tears (hence, the sunglasses!), then say a quick goodbye (feel free to come to Jamie and Marcy’s office afterwards for tissues, hugs and cold water!) It’s better for campers and their counselors to unpack together so your child knows exactly where their items are stored. (Step One in Independence!) You might be tempted to linger, but that will likely not be best for your camper.
10. PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK. Kids who go to a Jewish overnight camp like ours typically gain self-confidence, independence, knowledge and love of all things Jewish; acquire lots of great new skills and friendships and of course, have lots of fun! We’re convinced that being a camper at Camp Young Judaea helps with self-esteem, ease of adjustment to new situations (just ask parents of freshman college students!) and creates lifelong connections.