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#1 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 04:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#2 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 04:57 AM
 
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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
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#3 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 05:06 AM
 
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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.

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#4 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 05:39 AM
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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.

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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?

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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.)

professor & maman de DS1 (6) & DS2 (1)

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#5 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 06:36 AM
 
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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.
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#6 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 08:18 AM
 
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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.
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#7 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 10:19 AM
 
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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.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#8 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 10:32 AM
 
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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.
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#9 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 10:36 AM
 
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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.
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#10 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 10:51 AM
 
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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.

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#11 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 11:21 AM
 
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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.
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#12 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 11:34 AM
 
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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.

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#13 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 11:48 AM
 
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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.
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#14 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 12:11 PM
 
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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.

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#15 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 12:40 PM
 
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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.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#16 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 12:43 PM
 
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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.
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#17 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 12:46 PM
 
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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.
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#18 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 12:47 PM
 
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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.

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#19 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 12:58 PM
 
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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.
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#20 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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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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#21 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 02:22 PM
 
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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.
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#22 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 02:30 PM
 
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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.
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#23 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 04:06 PM
 
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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.
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#24 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 04:45 PM
 
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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.

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#25 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 04:47 PM
 
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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.

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#26 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 05:21 PM
 
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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.
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#27 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 05:22 PM
 
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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.

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#28 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 05:50 PM
 
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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.

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#29 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 06:00 PM
 
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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!
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#30 of 151 Old 04-15-2009, 10:10 PM
 
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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.
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