Written by Melody, Angela’s online manager and mom of 2 wild and crazy boys
As a parent of a 9 and 10 year old, I often feel like I’m in the Wild Wild West of raising kids. Screen time and technology and constant updates and constant changes to what’s available and don’t over-schedule but don’t let your kids out of your sight and sign them up for camps but not too many camps and limit screen time but screens aren’t the problem, not parenting the right way is the problem.
How is a Momma to navigate all this? And even if I thought I knew the answers, who even knows if they are the right answers because technology changes so quickly that nobody REALLY knows how all this is affecting our kids.
I try SO hard to find a balance with my kids. Trying to focus on what’s important to our family while navigating their growing up years happening in this age of technology.
Have you ever read those articles about raising kids in the “good old days” or see comments on Facebook from people lamenting “Back in my day…”? I 100% understand where this comes from, but the truth is, times are just different. Challenges are different. Kids are different. Families are different.
One thing that just feels rooted in nostalgia is summer camp. If you went to sleepaway summer camp when you were a kid, I imagine you know what I mean.
Warm summer nights, that feeling of independence from the responsibilities and rules of home. Actually wanting to take on some chores and jobs because you felt part of a bigger purpose and whole. Looking up to your counselors as role models. Trying out activities you may NEVER have done at home or your parents wouldn’t have felt comfortable letting you try.
Audrey Monke has been the owner of Gold Arrow Camp in the Sierra National Forest of California for over three decades and has now written an exceptional book called Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults.
She sent me a copy to check out (actually, I kind of begged her because it had been on my list to read and I was in the middle of deciding whether or not to send my kids to summer camp). It is an INCREDIBLE book.
My overwhelming response within the first few pages was IF I DON’T GET MY KID SIGNED UP FOR SUMMER CAMP I WILL DIE.
She makes such a case for ALL kids to go to summer camp, but especially our kids growing up in this generation of screens and technology and uncertainty.
Each chapter is a thorough example of why summer camp is so, so good for kids of all ages, but also brings in extremely practical examples for bringing the different character traits and activities home. Even if your kid doesn’t want to or never will go to summer camp, this book has so many excellent ways to bring the mentality of camp into your home.
Activities range from small and simple to huge, tradition-making events for your family. Questions that can be asked around the dinner table or as part of your family manifesto, simple Sticky Note Solutions where you can write something uplifting for your kid to see or as a reminder to yourself as a parent.
A few of my absolute favorite chapters include “Make it Cool to be Kind” and “Coach Kids to Better Friendships”. In “Grit is Grown Outside the Comfort Zone”, she talks so clearly about how our different kids (even siblings in the same family raised by the same parents) have vastly different comfort zones and we need to take some time to figure out where and how we can push our kids to try new things without completely paralyzing them.
I also love her suggestions for books and movies to read or watch that can portray the attitudes and ideas that she mentions in the book.
One of my favorite resources in the book is the Ready for Adulthood Checklist in the back of the book, with items separated by category. Things like “how to plunge a toilet” or “how to put gas in the car”. I know there are SO many things I just assume my kid should know or does know and I get frustrated when they are unsure (and worse, just don’t even know to ask).
If you’re a reader at all, I just want you to read this book. I do love non-fiction and self-helpy stuff, but am not always in the mood when my brain needs a break. My brain never needed a break from this book. It’s filled with so many positive stories and has a great mix of advice AND personal anecdotes and memories from camp.
Also, just bless those wonderful people who are passionate about taking in our kids at summer camp or coaching or teaching. Bless them one million times.
Of course you can buy the book Happy Campers on Amazon (or your favorite bookseller), but you can find out more about Audrey on her website Sunshine Parenting. She has tons of great tips, advice and articles about parenting and preparing your kids for summer camp.
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