Humorous author and valued conduit between teen and parent, Rachel Veil has written a witty and insightful column for the Washington Post on “Five Things Adults Get Wrong About Their Teenage Kids“. During the horrible moments of disrespect and selfishness, Veil reminds us that our kids won’t always be like this: “He is not simply his best self or his worst. She is neither the baby she was nor the adult she’ll eventually be.”
Keeping that nugget of wisdom in mind, sometimes our children need a little extra push to get through a particularly challenging phase; and summer camp offers that nudge from the nest with a safety net below. Depending on the camp program, this out-of-the-box environment will test their social, emotional, and sometimes even physical boundaries.
Summer camp can help kids connect and communicate
Another misconception Veil highlights is that kids are actually communicating even when parents think they’ve shut down. Even considering the styles of and suggestions for communication that Veil explains in her article, sometimes we’re so close to our kids that we can’t set aside our own lens to see what they are really asking for. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to step away and give them a little space, or direct them towards other creative forms of expression like an arts or music camp. A new peer group or cool summer camp counselor can also offer a fresh connection and complement to the communication you are already providing.
Give kids the room and time for growth
Despite all of Veil’s helpful tips, sometimes the simplest solution is giving them time apart to spread their wings. While they’re away at camp, you naturally start to forget how they keep stuffing their socks in the dryer lint trap or have a habit of tracking mud through the house while yelling your name from each different room. The distance allows for opportunities to miss them, and to offer affection from afar through written letters and packages. And upon their return, you’ll not only have a whole slew of stories to discuss, but the time apart will have given you the opportunity to step back and appreciate their growth process – to see them with fresh eyes through which you can acknowledge all of their positive attributes, accentuated and cultivated during their few weeks at summer camp.