Window into the World of Camp

A parent’s concern over their child’s overnight camp experience has always been a part of the camp journey.  All parents want their children to be well taken care of, make friends, learn new skills and have the best summer possible.  Even when they know they have done the research and chosen the best camp for their child, parents may still experience some anxiety with their child being away from the nest.  It’s natural to feel this way, especially when hearing your child’s voice is typically reduced to a weekly phone call.
But wait….times have changed when it comes to parents having a connection to their campers.  In the recent past, campers and parents would communicate through the above mentioned weekly phone call, and letters sent by the good old postal service.  So much has changed in these modern times.  Though letters are still being written, campers can also receive one-way emails, no longer having to wait days to hear news from home.  And even more changes have taken place for parents who in the past had limited information to the camp life.  Not only do they have access to the camp website blogs describing various events taking place, but parents now have access to online pictures of their campers.
It is common for camp websites to now have (password protected) photo galleries showing campers participating in all sorts of wonderful camp activities.  What may have once been exclusive to campers is now available for all families to see.  For many parents, this is a fantastic opportunity to see their child at camp and feel connected to them through photographs. They take comfort in seeing their child smiling for the camera and enjoying all that camp has to offer.  But what about the picture that does not show a happy expression? Or the camper that is not often in the pictures?  It’s very easy to misinterpret a photograph that only captures a brief moment in time.  I have had more than one friend tell me how anxious they felt waiting for their child’s camp pictures to upload each day, and how they would often sit there analyzing each picture for meaning into what their child was feeling.
Luckily for the camper, the camp experience is the same. This is a one way technology and except for the occasional pose, campers are going about their day as usual.  So what does a parent (especially a new parent to the world of overnight camp) do to make the most of this window into the world of camp, and have it be a positive experience?  Here are some tips from both camp directors and parents:
       1.  View with an open mind.  Know that pictures taken the first few days of camp will be very different from those taken once a child has become more familiar with friends and routines.  One friend told me she waits a few days before looking at her son’s camp web site because she knows that the longer she waits the more comfortable he will be, the more photos she will see him in, and the less worry she will experience. 
        2.  Contact the camp with any concerns.  Don’t worry unnecessarily.  Camp staff is always available to hear your concerns and make sure everything is going well for your child.
        3.  Trust in your camp and know that they will contact you if any issues with your child need to be addressed.  They have your child’s best interest at heart, and are invested in them having a wonderful summer.
        4.  When you do have the opportunity to communicate with your child…don’t make too many inquiries about things you saw in pictures…let your camper tell you all about his/her camp experience.
       5.   Try not to encourage your child to be included in as many camp photos as possible.  The last thing you want is for your child to be distracted from what they are doing by seeking out the camp photographer.  Let them focus on camp!  The fun they are having will be captured on film even when they aren’t aware of it.
So enjoy the pictures and appreciate the access we have into the world of camp.  We get to be a part of a place that is both amazing and life changing.  Happy viewing!