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10 tips for communicating with your resident camper

Date: 3/14/2011

Just because your child is spending time away at camp doesn't mean you can't stay in touch. Parents should follow the camp's recommendations for keeping in touch. However, here are ten general tips for communicating with your camper while they're getting the experience of a lifetime at summer camp.
  1. Carefully review and follow the camp's advice about communication. Talk with your child about how you'll be communicating and what their options are for staying in touch with the family while at camp.

  2. Send letters and postcards beginning a week before your camper leaves or, drop off letters and cards when you drop off the camper. This will ensure your child receives mail during the first delivery. Letters are extremely important because they are your child's best connection to home.

  3. Keep letters upbeat: Ask specific questions about your child's friends,, activities, life with the group/unit, etc. Try to refrain from writing too much about how much you miss him or what exactly she's missing at home.

  4. Observe camp's policy about phone calls. Camps often discourage phone calls early in the session. Some camps don't allow phone calls at all. Phone conversations between parents and campers can interfere with adjusting to camp; they can also help with it. Camps know what to do.

    During a longer session, an occasional phone call can be a great way to stay connected. Cell phone usage at camp is typically very regulated; camps are serious about their rules, so make sure your family understands and observes the camp's approach.

  5. Send one or two packages during your child's time at camp. Unless the camp encourages it, don't send food; it can be disruptive if some campers receive packages with food and others do not. It also may go against camp policy. Rather, send puzzles, magazine articles, games, and other things that can be shared among campers.

  6. Participate in family visiting days. Some camps do not offer family visiting days. However, if your child's camp does offer them, it is important to participate if possible. You will enjoy seeing your child in a new setting.

  7. Be sure to pack stamped and addressed envelopes and postcards. It is important for you to write to your camper, but it will be important for you to get responses as well. Try not to be discouraged by short and infrequent responses take it as a sign that your child is having too much fun.

  8. Help your child cope at camp. Children can have difficulty during the first few days of camp. You may receive letters containing urgent pleas to come home. Respond sympathetically by communicating your confidence in your child's ability to overcome the problem. Remember, by the time (s)he receives your letter, feelings about camp may have changed completely.

    Pre-write letters. If you anticipate your child will be extremely homesick, you can pre-write letters and arrange for the counselor to deliver them to your child every day during lunch.

  9. Send a reminder from home that your camper can look at or listen to. Record a message in a medium your child can listen to (tape or MP3) or allow your child to pack a favorite photo, stuffed animal or memento from home. This is a creative way for your child to feel connected to you and to life at home.

  10. Continue to communicate your love and support. In your letters be sure to talk about how proud you are of your child and how happy you are that (s)he is having such an adventure. And remember, you will have a chance to hear many camp stories when your child comes home.
Provided by the ACA, New England, the region's leading source for "all things summer camp." For more information, visit www.ACANewEngland .org, or or call 781-541-6080.

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