On sending kids to summer camp

Did you go to summer camp as a kid? I did, and it changed my whole world.

None of the summer camps around here are for the whole summer – kids go for a week or two, that’s all. But it was still a pivotal experience to be away from routine and parents, and to be able to try new ways of being. Summer camp gave me strength, skills, and experiences that have been important to me ever since.

So I liked this Slate article: My Daughter Went Away to Camp and Changed.

The best moments of childhood—the memories that stay with you into adulthood—are ones where your parents aren’t there. They are moments you experienced truly for yourself. In Homesick and Happy, Michael Thompson writes about a study where people were asked about their happiest childhood memory; more than 80 percent name a parent-free moment. Thompson explains that kids are better off when they accomplish something without having to think about how their parents would view it. Those memories are also more indelible. The self-confidence that comes from that accomplishment sticks better because it is completely earned.

So, as a parent you should want to push your kids out of your space to where they can rack up these 80 percent experiences—to explore, take risks, and try new identities. We are not invited, which is a paper-cut echo of the truth at the heart of parenting: You’re doing it best when you’re teaching them to leave you. Camp is an intensive course in how your children can do this successfully. [continue]