We are off and running into the camp season! For any full time or first session families, you are approaching the first phone call of the summer. This call should be a positive experience for both you and, especially, your child. We went got some awesome pro tips from our friends at IHC on how to crush the first (or for that matter any) call.
1. Approach the call with a positive tone e.g… “hey X, it’s so great to hear your voice, how is camp?”
2. Be prepared for 1 word answers. Please remember that young children are not that skilled in phone conversations. It’s hard enough for them at the best of times, never mind at camp! Be patient and positive – that is the key.
3. Create a list of questions you could ask e.g… who sleeps next to you, what are your counselors names, do you have a favorite counselor, what activities have you done, have you been water skiing, do you have a favorite activity? Try to make these questions ‘open’ questions as opposed to ‘yes/no’ questions. This approach will help facilitate conversation.
4. Try to expand on the information your camper gives you. So, if they say that yes they have been water skiing then ask them to tell you all about it.
5. Tell them how proud you are of them and that you have seen pictures of them on the website.
6. Ask your camper if they have been receiving your letters and thank them for their letters.
7. Remember that your child has not heard your voice in well over a week. They are likely to be emotional. Please do not meet this emotion with panic or serious concern! Try to soothe your child by being calm and collected. Tell your child “sweetheart it is ok to be upset, I’m here for you, talk to me, is everything ok”. They are likely to respond with “I miss you” or “I feel homesick”. Normalize this for your child – tell them that it is ok to feel this way and that you miss them too. Remind them that although they are missing you they can still have fun. Really try to transition your child onto a different focus by referring to your questions (see point 3).
8. If your child continues to be sad or upset ask them if there is anything that they need you to tell the camp directors or division leader. Remind them that the directors, assistant directors, head of girls and boys side, and their counselors are there to support him/her. If your child responds that there is nothing to tell us just then reassure them that feeling homesick is very normal and that you have every confidence that they will continue to have fun. If your child responds with a yes, ask them to communicate that with you so that you can be in touch with us. You could also encourage them to speak directly to us about any concerns that they have.
9. At the end of the call there are adults who will be waiting right outside to hug your child! They are masters at transitioning kids back into the swing of camp-even for those children who have emotional calls.
*Adapted from an email from Lauren & Joel Rutkowski, Owners/Directors at Camp IHC