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Attachment parenting and summer camp

post #1 of 151
Thread Starter 
I am desperate for somebody to agree with me. Nobody agreed with me in another thread so I am starting this one.

Isn't it unnatural for a camp that accepts 7-year-olds to prohibit the 7-year-old and the parent to talk to each other by telephone for 10 days?

My daughter is not 7, she is 11. And she found this most wonderful perfect horseback riding camp. We visited it, we loved it, but they have a policy against telephone contact with a parent. They say it makes children more homesick. And, the logistics of letting 100 kids call their parents every day would be nightmarish.

I don't want to talk to her for hours, I just want to hear her every day say, I am fine mom, I am happy, a little homesick, but I had a great time today kayaking. Love you, bye.

The kids are allowed to write letters and you can write letters to them. We already put the deposit down and my daughter is dying to go, so I am going to let her go.

It just feels so unnatural, not to be able to talk to your own child. I thought people here, who nurse their children and practice attachment parenting, and are SAHM (I am a working mom), would understand how I feel. I am so dying to think that something horrible would happen and I couldn't be there for my only child.

Help, I need your comments even if you disagree with me.
post #2 of 151
Hi Ruth, I never went to camp so I don't have any experience of what it is like to actually go to camp. My little boy is not quite six and at his age I would not feel comfortable with him going away without either me or dh. If he was 7, I would probably still not feel comfortable and the idea of him not being able to call me - would not be ok. I don't know how I will feel when he is 11, but as I am writing, I am thinking that if he wanted to call me - at whatever age - I would want him to be able to do that. I also know that part of it would be for my piece of mind.

It sounds like your daughter is looking forward to going to this camp; she feels confident, and you think it is a great place that she would enjoy it. You just really want to know that she is ok, and that you will miss her. Sounds like pretty normal feelings to me.

I guess that as our children get older and they branch out more on their own there can be mixed emotions. Delight and excitment for them in their new adventures and also some grief over our own (not sure how to word this) having to let go, and step back.

Maybe those ten days (that does sound like a long time to me) you could do something special for yourself so that when you reunite you can both share some special new memories with each other.


Would love to hear how the camp goes and how you manage.

Take care,
Lesley

Lesley
post #3 of 151
You said it yourself, it would just not to be possible to allow all of the children to do that. It would take hours every day to let each child phone home. If you aren't comfortable with that then maybe it is best to keep her home. I was 11 when I started to go to overnight camp and I did just fine. I had a blast being away from my parents! Personally, I probably won't feel comfortable letting my children go to overnight camp, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
post #4 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth View Post
they have a policy against telephone contact with a parent. They say it makes children more homesick.
I went to camp. I totally believe their argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth View Post
I don't want to talk to her for hours, I just want to hear her every day say, I am fine mom, I am happy, a little homesick, but I had a great time today kayaking. Love you, bye.
I hope this doesn't come across too harshly -- I don't mean to be harsh.

Honestly, I don't think this is about AP. You aren't talking about what your 11 year old daughter needs -- you are talking about what you want as a parent.

It sounds like your daughter is excited about it. Chances are very good that she will have a total blast. You, on the other hand, might have a hard time from the sounds of it. Who is the camp for, again?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth View Post
I am so dying to think that something horrible would happen and I couldn't be there for my only child.
mama. I would be shocked if they didn't allow phone calls in exceptional circumstances (i.e. something horrible happening.)
post #5 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post

mama. I would be shocked if they didn't allow phone calls in exceptional circumstances (i.e. something horrible happening.)
This is what I think you need to have them reassure you about.

Also, you can always call the camp during office hours, right? And say, how is my daughter doing?

Generally when I was growing up, and as a counselor at Girl Scout camp, camp was No Calls. But that didn't mean if a child got hysterical they couldn't call home.
post #6 of 151
I regularly take kids to summer camps and I have to agree, they do seem to get more homesick after phoning home. Especially if they do shortly before bedtime.

Before mobiles, we would only be able to ring parents in an emergency. I can not imagine a camp where this would be possible, even when the general rule is no phone calls.

Now quite a few of the kids come with their own phones and I hate to say it is a real pain. The child with the phone often gets more upset after phoning home and the kids without phones are more upset because they can't phone.
post #7 of 151
I worked at a really good camp for many years. (How to talk so kids will listen... and Parent Effectiveness Training were the core curriculum for counsellor training and it was where I first ran into the whole concept of GD.)

We had the same policy. I don't think it's unnatural at all. I actually guess I'm old enough to think that constant cell phone contact is less natural. We did have the campers write home at least once a week (the camping period was a month) and most campers wrote home more like every couple of days.

If there were serious problems, of course the parents were called.

It is definitely a nightmare for the camp to organize, but it's more than that - it's about the direct communication between the camper and the staff at the camp. If a camper's upset, the staff need and want to know, and you can bet that if 100 campers were saving up their problems to tell their parents (which they probably would), there would then be 50 calls to the camp director, 50 investigations into what the issues were, and 50 calls back to the parents.

Instead, part of the experience of sleepaway camp is to learn that the responsible adults around you can support and care for you and that communicating with them directly is totally possible. It's also part of the experience for the parents to let their kids have an experience in which they don't share directly.

Good luck with your decision about it!

I would say though that if there is a policy at a camp that makes you really uncomfortable, it may mean it is not a good match for your family.
post #8 of 151
My daughter has been attending Girl Scout camp for five or six years.

Logistically, it really is impossible for all those girls to call home every day.

Of course they would call you if there was an emergency. It isn't even a question - if someone is sick or injured they absolutely contact you right away.
post #9 of 151
I don't think this is about AP, either. The attachment part also means that as they mature, you let go according to their needs. If she wants to go and is O.K. with being out of contact except in the case of emergency, then let her go. If she is not comfortable with it, then try to find a camp/day camp that you can attend with her.
post #10 of 151
I don't really see why this is an AP issue. It sounds like your dd is excited about this camp and ready to go - it's you that wants the phone contact.

I clearly remember going to camp and having a blast, I was probably 10 years old. We were not allowed phone contact, but we did get letters from our parents and that was so much fun.

My best advise is to let her go, write her letters, and if you trust the camp is a fun, safe place, don't stress too much about the lack of phone calls. Imagine trying to coordinate that for every single camper each day! Not possible.
post #11 of 151
I'd slip some cool stationary, pre-addressed envelopes, and stamps- and maybe a cool pen or two into her bag. Wave goodbye, and look forward to letters- IF she feels like writing them.

I worked at a great camp, and we had a similar policy, and honestly, if the child had a need to call, it was met. We did not worry so much about meeting the parents' needs to talk to their kids.

My 7yo dd wil probably be heading off for her first year this year- they have a 4 day sleepaway weekend.

As a counselor, I worked with the youngest kids- ages 6-8 and they were there for 2 weeks. The counselors really are there for the kids in a way that the paents aren't- and it's a good experience for the kids to learn how to handle being away.
post #12 of 151
While I completely understand why you are hesitant I also beleive that AP promotes independence and the ability for children to realize that they are ready to be away from home. It sounds like your daughter is ready. If she is anything like I was at that age she will be having too much fun even to write but she will love getting letters from you. My parents planned it so I got a letter everyday from one of them or my little brother while at camp. It was great! The kids who were extrememly homesick were given the opportunity to call home and some had their parents pick them up early because of homesickness but for the most part the children who were ready to be there had a blast! I still remember my camp experiences with great fondness. I was 9 the first time and 11 the second.
post #13 of 151
My now 11 yo ds has attended summer camp for the past three summers. The last two he was away for SEVEN WEEKS!!!

They also have no call policy, especially the first summer (and no visit, as the camp is only 10 miles away). They do allow the parents to call around dinner time if needed, and as my ds has become more at home there, and they know he's not going to dip into homesick state if he talks to me, they ddon't mind if I stop by now and again.

I think its really hard on a kid to transition back and forth between the independent "camp life' and being mom/dads baby. Hence the rules against calling.

Iits really hard to let go, but the bottom line is the childs comfort, not yours.... I know a mom who sent two of her girls to the same camp last summer, they LOVED it... she will not be allowing them to return because she had such a hard time with them being away (she did call the camp every day to make sure they were ok..) I feel sad for the girls and I feel sad for mom..

If you can overcome your discomfort with the no call, I'd encourage you to let her go... most likely she'll have a great time and if she is not, if she's terribly homesick, then of course they're going to contact you.
post #14 of 151
Specifically to OP-- it's only a week, and your daughter is 11, which I think is old enough for her to understand the ramifications and make the decision for herself. So, if she feels comfortable, she'll probably be fine.

Regarding the principle of the thing, though:
I can totally see how it would be almost impossible, logistically, for 100 kids to call home every day. Also, if long distance, I suppose it would become expensive after a while.... and it doesn't surprise me at all that the camps have policies to "decrease homesickness" and encourage trust in the counselors.

All of that said-- and no offense to PPs who obviously feel differently-- I just do not think it is a good, at all, for a 7 year old to be away from his/her parents for a month at a time. This is not just "child developing independence." It is "child being separated from everyone he/she loves." If parental contact must be cut off in order for the child to emotionally acclimate, then what is that saying about the experience? I'm in my 20s with a child of my own, and if *I* didn't talk to my mom and dad for a month it would seem weird. Even more-- if someone told me that they were taking away from husband and daughter for a month so I could become "independent"-- oh, and no phone calls, because that would lengthen my acclimation-- I would NOT be pleased.

I think this is a good example of a fairly common phenomenon-- adults encouraging children to do things that adults would not want to do themselves.

idk-- every situation is different, as evidenced by posts above about children *loving* camp.... but after listening to this radio show:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radi...spx?sched=1086

I decided that we just wouldn't do camp-type stuff at all.
post #15 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaterPrimaePuellae View Post
All of that said-- and no offense to PPs who obviously feel differently-- I just do not think it is a good, at all, for a 7 year old to be away from his/her parents for a month at a time. This is not just "child developing independence." It is "child being separated from everyone he/she loves." If parental contact must be cut off in order for the child to emotionally acclimate, then what is that saying about the experience? I'm in my 20s with a child of my own, and if *I* didn't talk to my mom and dad for a month it would seem weird. Even more-- if someone told me that they were taking away from husband and daughter for a month so I could become "independent"-- oh, and no phone calls, because that would lengthen my acclimation-- I would NOT be pleased.

I think this is a good example of a fairly common phenomenon-- adults encouraging children to do things that adults would not want to do themselves.

idk-- every situation is different, as evidenced by posts above about children *loving* camp.... but after listening to this radio show:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radi...spx?sched=1086

I decided that we just wouldn't do camp-type stuff at all.
I think it is definitely an individual call. I totally see your point about kids being away and the different standards in that sense.

But my experience is pretty different. My particular camp started at 9 years old, but the majority of campers were 12-15.

For me, camp was a lifesaver in more ways than one.

As a girl in particular, spending a month (and then two months) in a media-free, mostly boy-free environment helped me to hold onto some aspects of myself that Mary Pipher talks about disappearing in her book Reviving Ophelia. Learning and applying the physical skills and having a group of friends that were in no way related to school was really great.

Having young women in their late teens to mid twenties as role models and supporting me in loco parentis was fantastic in a lot of ways. I remember a few in particular: an openly lesbian artist; a phenomenal tennis player.

And yes, being away from my parents and starting to make decisions without checking in with the "family viewpoint" was a big part of that.

It wasn't that I was cut off from my parents so much as that I was away from them, and in my life I have been extremely glad that I am able to be away from my support network and still know that I was both fine and that the relationships would be there when I was back. It also cut off the noise of the regular expectations on me and made the space for me to create different ones.

I know so many women, in particular, who are afraid to eat alone, go to events alone, travel alone, or seize professional opportunities alone and who really limit their lives to what people around them are willing to do. I don't consider this to be the end goal of attachment parenting - having to be attached in that way.
post #16 of 151
My 11 yo DS went to sleep away camp for 6 nights last summer. The camp is nearby and we know the folks in charge. We had gone to the camp as a family a couple times for weekend retreats so knew DS was comfortable there. He was fine. I had to keep my anxiety in check before leaving him. It was weird not hearing his voice for so many days. He had a blast and will be returning this summer. It was good that we had no contact as I probably would have asked about something related to hygiene, which I learned was not a focus at camp.
post #17 of 151
I started going to sleep-away camp when I was nine. No phone calls were allowed (this was before the age of cell phones, of course). Honestly, it was never a big deal. I wrote letters to my parents. I LOVED getting letters back. And I loved having a little independence! At 9, I was absolutely old enough to go 2-3 weeks without talking to my parents on the phone. The next year, I started going for 6 weeks--there was a parent visiting day 3 weeks in, but again, no regular phone calls.

In the case of an accident, etc. the camp will OF COURSE contact you immediately. One year at camp I got sick and had to spend a couple of days in the infirmary. Even though this wasn't an "emergency" (I was sick enough that I couldn't run around, not so sick that I needed to go to the hospital or anything), I spoke to my parents every day that I was there. My cousin also got very sick one year at camp (same camp), and her parents were called to come pick her up.
post #18 of 151
I'm sorry that I can't agree with you. I want to, i really do. I was feeling the same thing last year when I sent my 8yo off to camp with his best friend. I wasn't ready to send him, but he was ready to go and his best friend was going, so I consented. I did write to him everyday, but he never had the time to write back to me.LOL

The logistics of having them call just wouldn't work. They're busy! They're not just lying around. They can't hold up everyone just to wait for someone to get off the phone with mom. They can't have kids on their cell phones.

I was afraid that someone would hurt him and he wouldn't be able to call me. I was afraid that he'd miss me. I was just afraid to let him go. But he loved it. This year I'm sending my 7yo daughter and my 9yo son at the same time. I'm going to be a wreck that week, but they'll be having fun.

If your daughter truly gets homesick, they'll call you. They know true homesick vs. temporary homesick.
post #19 of 151
Nope, can't agree with you. Sounds more like you have a problem with the idea that your DD could be fine at the camp without you!

If you have a problem with it, don't send her to camp. You are unlikely to find a good camp with a different policy. It's up to you whether your parenting ego takes precedence over your DD's desire to have the camping experience.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's how it looks to me.
post #20 of 151
I posted on your last thread as well I believe, but here is the story of my little brother going to summer camp.

My little brother has always been a mama's boy a little, but he was tiny it was ALOT - he loved his mama and never wanted to be away from her. This is not a bad thing. But, he also had this really great friend (our next door neighbor - people that the whole family was close friends with - really wonderful people) that he loved, and he really wanted to do an overnight at this boys house. He couldn't - not AT ALL. He would make until 2am and then freak out, they would call my parents and they would go get him.

So, my older brother and I went to camp one year and had a blast, both of us! My little brother didn't want to go since it was 10 days - he was 9 that year. The next year my parents decided that he was going to go too. The camp was close enough that if they had to come get him they could. My parents dropped us all off at the pickup point (we took busses to camp since it was on an island) and My little brother cried, and went kicking and screaming. That was the last my parents heard from him until 10 days later when they picked us all up! He had a BLAST - didn't even write a single letter! And, no more homesickness problems ever again. EVER.

Some of you might think that was cruel of my parents - but I think it allowed him to grow in a way that he wouldn't have been able to if they didn't. This was a child who didn't want to go and had a great time! My parents even called the camp to see how he was doing and spoke with his age group director who said he was doing great - no meltdowns, had tons of friends in his cabin and in other cabins, had made upthe groups campfire skit, etc. He just needed that little push to get on the bus and had the time of his life!

From what you've said your daughter WANTS to go to camp! I wholeheartedly agree with the pp who said it was a good experience for her to be away from media, away from boys for the most part, and in a place with other female role models - its such a good feeling to do something on your own and realize that even if your parents aren't right there you can still do it! Making decisions on your own is hard, and learning that in a place that is supportive and friendly is good for children I think.

Also, about all kids calling home being really hard - one camp that I worked at did allow once weekly phone calls home and it was AWFUL!!! Oh man - talk about inducing homesickness! That was my least favorite day of the week for many reasons that I won't go into, and the girls were a MESS for the rest of the day. Dealing with the emotions was terrible and hard, and it was the hardest day of the week for the entire summer for all the staff.
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