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Attachment parenting and summer camp - Page 2

post #21 of 151


If you are worried that the camp won't contact you in the case that your daughter gets sick - find out their policy on that before she goes, and if they don't allow ANY phone contact, EVEN in case of emergency don't send her. Find a different one. And, find out if the camp is accredited by the American Camping Association - if they are this will speak alot about the camp.
post #22 of 151
I wanted to add that I also think that going off to camp and a child's readiness to do so is just as developmental as walking or talking. Some kids are ready earlier than others. My dd is 7 and this would be torture for her at this point. She would feel abandoned. But I expect that by the time she is 11 or 12 or so she'll be ready, as she feels more and more independent every year. For some kids this might come sooner or later.

The key to AP is that you take your cues from your dd... not your own emotions.

How many times have we all felt like screaming at our kids, but didn't because we were consciously thinking of their feelings before our own anger? It's the same thing here. You have to put your dd's feelings first while at the same time ensuring to your best ability her safety in all of this.
post #23 of 151
Attachment parenting means to take your cues from your child. She wants to go! That means she is ready. Pat yourself on the back for having done a good job of raising a secure child.
post #24 of 151
Originally Posted by bl987ue View Post
Attachment parenting means to take your cues from your child. She wants to go! That means she is ready. Pat yourself on the back for having done a good job of raising a secure child.
Basically what I was going to say. And also it sounds like you have raised a great kid and you and your DH are doing a great job. And since you child is older than my children, I am seeing the AP child raising does keep paying off!

If all of this dosent jive with you, keep her home this summer but be prepared to have something else available for her, since she seems ready to me. I would talk to some other families IRL who have gone to the camp or similar and see their opinions. I also think, you dd is old enough and smart enough to know if something is wrong and what to do. If something happens, you can always pick her up early.

I know if I was getting ready to send her off, I would also have a problem like you are stating, but I would trust in the system put in place since if it wasnt working, I doubt people would be wanting to send their kids to a place like that nor would you be considering it. I do know if it was my oldest dd, now at age 7, I would question it, but with my younger who is extremely independent (and only 3!) I would not think twice about it at age 11.
post #25 of 151
I agree with them. They are right - the logisitics of 100 kids wanting to call home is nightmarish. I also think that calling home induces homesickness more. Part of being ready for sleep-away camp means not being able to call home. If she is not ready then find a day camp that does horseback riding.
They let her write letters, so if she was miserable she could write you, you would get the letter in 2 days max and then you would know and could go get her.
A compromise? Can you call the camp every day and speak to her counselor to see if she is doing ok?
Where we live the 6th graders (so 11-12 year olds) spend a week at a nature center here, overnight camping, no contact with parents. So almost a whole school district of kids (a few don't go I'm sure) go and are fine. At 11 I would not at all have a problem with my child away at camp for 10 days with no contact. At 7, I probably would, but I wouldn't send her at 7.
post #26 of 151
This feels a little like piling on at this point, but I don't agree either. As a former camp councelor, I can personally attest to the fact that calls home make it a lot harder for a child to settle into enjoying camp rather than missing home.

Certainly you should ask about emergencies and how they are handled -- both emergencies on your end and on the camp or campers part. I know the camp that I worked at many years ago called on behalf of kids that were having adjustment issues (but this was a month long camp, so that was a bigger issue). The camp staff talked to the councelors to come up with a plan for each individual camper. The couple of kids where the parents were insistant that the child be allowed phone calls had a much harder time than those who's parents did not do calls.

DS is 9 and heading to his first week of sleep away camp this summer. We know this camp and are entirely comfortable with it. He wants to go, he says he's ready. For me, that means that its time for me to step back and let him spread his wings that much more. That's the ultimate job of a parent -- get out of the way and let them fly.
post #27 of 151
When I was that age, I wanted desperately to go to sleepaway camp, but my mom wouldn't let me go. She just wasn't comfortable with the idea.

I was totally ready, and would have been fine. I did go on a school trip that year away from home for a few nights, which went fine.

I would encourage you to think about this in terms of whether you trust your daughter to be right about her ability to handle this. I suspect that if she thinks she can handle it, she can. You might also consider what message you would be sending her about your confidence in her judgement and self-knowledge if you didn't let her go.
post #28 of 151
I understand your argument that it's unnatural to not let a 7 year old contact their parents, and it's a little weird that this camp accepts 7 year olds for a 10 day camp. But, my solution would be to not send my 7 year old to that camp. Ds is going to be 8 this summer and no way is he ready for a week away. Actually, there's a science camp that does an 'introductory' overnight camp of 2-3 days for kids his age, and he's not ready for it.

But an 11 year old? I would in a heartbeat. I went to camp as an 11 year old and loved it!

Is your dd bothered by not being able to check in with you? That's what you need to go off of.

All camps will let kids call in an emergency or if they're feeling really really scared/anxious. So, it's not like they're holding your child prisoner. But part of the joy of camp is the 'retreat' aspect of it -- you're away from it all. I wouldn't want to deny my child that experience, if my child wanted it. And I would hope that my AP parenting when my child was younger would give my child the confidence and the skills to be able to be away if they wanted.
post #29 of 151
Oh gosh Op, I was having some of the same feelings last year when I sent my 9 y/o off for her 1st week of overnight camp. It's a huge milestone for both you and your dd. We didn't have any phone contact, but I didn't doubt that I would be called for something big. I did lots of research and felt very good about the camp to begin with.

Someone pointed me in the direction of some camp resources on the web that talked about seperation and managing homesickness successfully as a developmental piece for the kids. I think this is so very true. my dd loved camp, but struggled a lot with homesickness. She made it though, and I thought, well, thats the end of overnight camp for us. This year she is gung ho to go back and feels like she knows she can manage feeling like she misses us at night. She's mastered something and feels good about herself for it. I am very poud of her. And of me, because the seperation was hard, but I've learned to trust my dd and the people I involve in her life.

I'd suggest not worrying about any other kid but your own, and her desire to go to camp. 11 is a good age for this-she'll have a blast, and you'll get to experience a bit of her independence in a safe and fun environment.

Good luck!
post #30 of 151
OP, I think your feelings are totally normal, we all worry about our kids when they are in someone elses care. It will be tough, but it will be okay, let her go.
post #31 of 151

care packages!

I was deeply DEEPLY attached to my Mom (still am )and went away for overnight camp for the first time when I was 11 (for 4 weeks). It was fabulous, I loved every single minute of it. There were no cell phones then and it never even occurred to me to call home. In remembering that time, I remember how exciting getting mail was. If you do decide to go ahead with sending your DD to this camp I strongly recommend writing her daily letters, and sending care packages regularly. Your DD may not write you back (I think I wrote letters very rarely) but she will treasure whatever you send her.

Also it's interesting that a pp referenced the This American Life Camp Episode as a reason to avoid camp because I loved camp and I really got a kick out of that show. It made me nostalgic for a special time in my life that I treasure.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.
post #32 of 151
Originally Posted by Shaki View Post

Also it's interesting that a pp referenced the This American Life Camp Episode as a reason to avoid camp because I loved camp and I really got a kick out of that show. It made me nostalgic for a special time in my life that I treasure.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.
hah, that's me! If you've listened to the episode, then you know that they distinguish between "camp people" and non-"camp people"-- and I guess I'm just in the latter group! All of the girls weeping and weeping when their team lost the color war just seemed like madness to me--- but I can also see why it might seem otherwise to others.

Reading through this thread has definitely helped me to understand how others might feel differently about camp and the separation experience, so that's been good for me.

Finally-- to the OP who mentioned the Reviving Ophelia book and spending time with strong female role models-- that is an excellent point which I had no considered.
post #33 of 151
Originally Posted by Ruth View Post
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 do understand how you feel. It would extremely difficult for me to not talk to my dd for days at a time (she is now 8).

But I also understand the camp policy. And, while I never went to (or wanted to go to) sleep away camp (outside of girl scout camp, which I only liked a little bit), I would put on a smile and send dd if she wanted to go at 11.

The camp sounds wonderful, and the experiences of posters on this thread sound incredible! I hope she has an equally sweet camp experience. Ultimately, if she is ready, it will probably be a great experience for both of you.
post #34 of 151
I agree with you.

It sounds unnatural to me and I'd have a hard time with that policy.

I wouldn't be away from my husband that long without talking with him and I certainly wouldn't be away from my child without talking with her and knowing she could call me if she wanted to.
post #35 of 151
I attended summer camp for *many* years, my camp was ~1,000 miles away from my home!

It was a 4 week endeavor and there were no phone calls home. Yes, exception were made (A child was ill and needed to go into town to see the doctor, family emergencies)... but rarely did kids get to call home. When a call was made home it was the camp director calling, and the child would be brought in to talk. It was not the child herself making the call.

As a counselor I had 7-8 yr old girls in my hut. I remember one mother came up to me on opening day and secretly handed me 3 letters. She would start sending her daughter mail as soon as she got home, but gave me a few letters to distribute those first few days until the real letters started arriving. That way her daughter had a letter from home every day. The kids *love* getting mail! I thought this was a great idea for first time camper.

I had another child whose mother had made her a special pillowcase for camp, many came with home made photo albums to keep tucked near their bunks.

My little girls were all a bit frightened and homesick the first night. No one knew what to expect! The second night I had 2 campers still homesick. By day 3 they were all giggling and worries were gone. I actually had to force them to write letters home on Sunday!

I felt the same at that age!! It wasn't that i didn't miss home. It is just i was confident that home and my parents would always be there. Home would not change for me. My parents had given my enough confidence to venture away from them! Camp was a very short gift every summer and the friends I met there i may not ever see again. Sure, many of came back year after year... but sadly some couldn't. I wanted to treasure the moments that i knew would be so short lived. Home would always be there.... my camp friends would not.

BTW... 10 years after my last summer I still keep in touch with camp friends. Camp remains the most profoundly positive experience of my life and I wish both you and your daughter all the best! Be positive, and allow her to have agood time without having to worry if mom is falling apart. Only as a grown woman did i begin to understand how hard it was for my Mom and Dad to let me go every summer. I thank them for doing so.
post #36 of 151
If your daughter is okay with it, maybe you can try to be too? I'm not being flippant-believe me-I can't imagine not talking to my kids for a couple of days, let alone a week (they are only little though).

I say this b/c I went to summer camp from age 8-16, for 3 weeks to 8 weeks at a go, and they had the same deal (and for the same reasons you've listed). Obviously if something was really, really wrong, contact was initiated (ie. accident, etc.).

Some of my campers' parents would start writing letters before their kids left home, so they'd have mail waiting for them.
post #37 of 151
I've wondered about this quite a bit myself in recent years since becoming a parent. I don't think it's an obvious answer. I am a "camp person" also, in fact, my paid work involves running a short summer camp program in July. I heard recently about a camp near my city where kids go for 4 weeks and there are no phone calls - apparently it's a "rite of passage" for the particular community serviced by that camp. It seemed a bit intense to me, for kids as young as 8 to go that long without talking to home. I have worked at camp for years and years and one of the camps I worked at for the longest had a pay phone on site that kids would line up to use during the choice time period. That camp had a lot of international campers who would call home every couple of days to check in. Last year I had one junior counsellor who had to call home every day and I permitted this. Also, if a camper at "my" camp was distressed and asked to call home, I certainly would have allowed this to happen. But I try to run our program with an attachment based leadership model in mind.
I agree with the comments of previous posters that if your daughter thinks she is up for this then go for it.
Also, my mom would often write letters BEFORE I left for summer camp so that there would be mail waiting for me when I arrived. I actually found this annoying and embarrassing, but that was totally just me. I think it's a GREAT idea and if it turns out that either of my kids is attached enough to want to have this public display of parenting attention while away at camp then I would be all OVER sending out letters ahead of the camper.
Also, there are probably one or two camps in your area that run "family camp" type programs, sometimes during the middle or last week of the summer. This might be a way to experience camp within the context of the family as a bridge to future years. But it doesn't sound as if your daughter requires this extra support.
So, in brief, Yes, I agree with you that it is a bit excessive to not allow phone calls home.
Yes, I think the kids cry more when they talk to their parents. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. They ARE away from their parents. That IS a little bit sad. Distracting kids from being sad isn't what we're all about. I think sometimes it can become a bit of mass hysteria though when everyone gets going on the homesickness. That's when I would hope the staff would get involved and get things going and move people past that point.
I'm rambling.
Camp rocks. I hope she has a great time! You'll be amazed at how it turns out.
And definetly make sure it's an accredited camp and that they will contact you if your child is sick/hurt/hysterical etc.

Good luck!
post #38 of 151
My oldest is almost 8, so I don't know if I would feel differently if he were 11, but NO WAY would I feel comfortable with that. What if he was unhappy? What if someone was mean to him? What if he wanted to leave?

It actually doesn't matter why - I would not send him anywhere that didn't allow phone access.
post #39 of 151
I didn't read all the responses, so I don't know what the other mamas here had to say. But I did want to say that I was one of those kids who was always terribly homesick at camp and I can almost guarantee you that no camp director will prevent a horribly homesick kiddo from calling home. The logistics of 100 kids calling home daily is impossible. And I'll agree that a mildly homesick kid might do better with distraction than a phone call home. But if your DD is in tears, I'd be willing to bet you'll be getting a phone call. Could you send a cell phone with her to use only if necessary?

Sounds like your daughter is really excited about camp. I bet she'll do great and be proud that she was able to go even if she does need a phone call home to make it through the week.
post #40 of 151
Wow, I'm so surprised that a no-phone policy is normal.

Camp isn't such a big thing in the UK, but I did go to one camp as a kid. And there were pay phones. And there were no limits whatsoever on using them to call anyone you chose to call. And there were no logistical problems with it either. I just recall us hanging around waiting for a phone to be free in the evenings, chatting and eating candy and larking around as we did so. It was no chaotic big deal, just kids hanging out while they waited turns. And there was more that a hundred kids there. And no cell phones in those days either!

Some kids called a lot, some didn't call at all. I think I called once or twice during the week.

I'm with you, even if I am a lone voice. I think it is most odd to deny kids the use of a phone. And I'm wondering how that works anyway in this day and age of cellphones.

My kids have no interest in going away to camps, and I have no interest in sending them. Our summers are spent together, and camp is just not part of my cultural expectation for them. But if and when they decide to go, I'd expect them to take a phone and be allowed to call home if they wished to. Nothing to do with what I want as a parent, but I do think that they should be allowed that contact if they wish.

But if your dd is OK with it, I guess it's not a problem right now. In principle, though, I"m with you!
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