Why I Never Regret Sending My Kids To Camp (Even When I Miss Them)
This summer, two of my three children will be dropped off at a camp in rural New England toward the end of June. For the next month, they will have no technology. They will write letters, make lanyards, do art projects, have late night cabin chats, and, the final weekend, take a special parent-child camping trip to integrate all of their experiences. They won’t be back until the end of the July.
Does this break my heart? Heck yes. I miss them terribly and long to see them each and every second. But I know that even while I miss them, sleepaway camp is one of the best childhood experiences I can help them to have.
See also: Benefits of Day Camp for Preschoolers
I also know that sleepaway camp is a privilege (camps can run upwards of $1,000 per week) and not everyone can afford it. But for interested families, scholarships and short-term camps can help children experience camp without the hefty price tag. Here are the six things camp does for my kids:
Summer Camp Weans Kids Off Tech: Kids have so few chances to really be off technology. Sure, you can limit them at home (and we do), but camp really dials it back. There is no electricity in the cabins and kids aren’t allowed to email or text. And the thing is? They don’t miss it one bit.
Summer Camp Brings Them Back to Nature: They get to be kids. Digging in the dirt, showering once a week, cooling off in a lake. My daughter came home last summer with dirty hands and the biggest smile on her face after her time at camp.
See also: Choosing a Day Camp for Your Toddler or Preschooler
Summer Camp Fosters Independence: We all say we want independent kids. But then we all but cut their food for them at dinner. I love all three of my children with everything I have. But I also want them to be independent souls who know how to solve their own problems. Studies show thatsleepaway camp really does promote independence, confidence, resilience, and that favorite buzzword-predictor of future success: grit.
Camp Gives Them Lifelong Friendships: There is no bond like a camp bond. My daughter diligently wrote letters all year to the friends she made at camp. In fact, every person I know who went to camp made their true best friends at camp, not at school.
Camp Mixes Up Their Summer: My kids have lazy days of summer -- the kind of lay-about-the-house, wake-up-with-nothing-to-do, go-to-the-pool summer days all kids crave and need. They just don’t have lazy days all summer through. We balance one month of camp with seven weeks of home and family vacation time, which gives them a well rounded summer. Plus: I feel less guilty during those weeks they watch TV all day knowing they had a lot of outdoor time during camp.
Camp Allows Them to Miss Me (and Vice Versa): When they come home, I appreciate them in ways I never expected, and not having them around reminds me that, even when they drive me bonkers, I couldn’t possibly live without them.
Did you go to sleepaway camp as a kid? Would you send your kids to camp, too? Share your story in the comments!