As we approach the summer Camp Runoia season, the ‘experts,’ and media tell us that covid has generated more anxiety than is typical and that our kids may be feeling it the most. According to the CDC, “Children’s mental health during public health emergencies can have both short and long term consequences to their overall health and well-being.” It makes sense that children who have spent intensive amounts of time as part of the family unit may be reluctant to leave that safe bubble and head off into an unknown new experience no matter how fun it sounds. It’s not just new campers who may be feeling a little more anxious, parents are often surprised when longer term campers express fears or reluctance about returning to camp. While we want camp to feel like ‘home away from home’ it may take some campers a few days to get to that feeling.
There are only 85 days until we open Camp Runoia for the summer and it is typical at this time of year to hear from a few families that their camper may be having second thoughts or is more worried than they expected about coming to camp. Some anxiety about a new experience is to be expected but debilitating concerns or persistent worry is something that should be delved into a little more deeply.
Preparation for the adventure and discussion about what to expect can be great ways to reduce anxiety, answer questions and solve perceived problems that may be more hypothetical than real.
Campers can help to get ready for camp by:
- Looking at the website and thinking about which activities they can’t wait to try.
- Printing the packing list and choosing uniform and finding supplies.
- Writing down their questions and emailing the directors.
- Figuring out on the camp map where important places are.
- Talking through some ‘what if’s’ and how camp handles them.
- Connecting with returning campers and pen pals to get the inside scoop
- Practicing skills that they will need at camp – bed making, laundry sorting, hair and teeth brushing, showering.
- Trying to use a flashlight for reading at night.
- Practice writing letters! It’s a great way for all the family to share news.
- Start a mindfulness skills list and have campers think about what helps them if they are worried or need a minute to regroup.
At camp kids get constant human interaction in all aspects of their daily life. They can reconnect with nature and literally live in the out of doors away from technology. They build resilience and grit as they challenge themselves in a supportive environment, can explore problem solving, and also are encouraged to have a ‘can do’ or ‘I’m not good at it yet’ attitude. For most campers anxieties about the experience typically evaporate once they are busy and engaged with camp life. There may be a few that need a little more help and our skilled team of experienced, senior staff along with our support specialist work closely to help campers reduce anxiety and have a great time.
In this article the American Camp Association suggests that camp is a great antidote to the Covid pandemic. Camp offers kids the unique opportunity to step back into a simpler time, with no internet connection. A place where a small community can join together and support one another without judgment, simply because it’s the right thing to do. Campers benefit from being out of their homes, playing with other kids, being challenged and nurtured as they adventure into a new experience.
It’s not only three weeks away from home, it’s only three weeks at Runoia!
We wish summer lasted so much longer.