How to Strengthen Your Kid and Your Entire Family


There’s nothing I love more than the week after my kids get home from sleep away summer camp. Our kids hang around home reminiscing about their few weeks away in the Missouri humidity while we tend to their bug bites, bumps, and bruises.

One is nursing a painful ingrown toenail; one is peeling profusely from his sunburn while healing a sprained ankle; another has strained and cut up knees from who knows what and one has no idea how he got the open wounds all up his arm.

Proof of time away at summer camp.

I most likely could’ve saved them from a lot of their misfortunes, if I would’ve been with them. Don’t do that son. Here do this. Put this on daughter. Go here instead of there. STOP!!

I would’ve protected, shielded and padded them to keep them safe and out of harms way the best I could. Moms are good for that. And that my friends, is why I have to send my kids off to sleep away camp for a few weeks each summer.

My teenagers need space to grow and strengthen their body, soul, and mind without me.

Our worn out, somewhat beat up, campers are strengthened from their time away from us.


We, parents, are good at stripping away freedoms that our kids so desperately need to experience in their lives. We want our children free from all pain, failure, and discomfort today. But, if we never let them feel pain, how can they learn from their mistakes? If we never allow our kids to fail, how can they know when they succeed? If we never put them in uncomfortable situations, how do they ever learn to get comfortable with themselves?

Our entire family is strengthened because of our kids time away at summer camp.

When our foursome comes home from Kanakuk, we talk a lot. We laugh even more. We connect on a deeper level than we did before they left. Through the stories, I see that our kids have changed and grown in ways they never could’ve on my watch.

Proof of time away at summer camp.

All of us parents have a choice of how we are going to invest in our kids and their lives.

Are you happy with the investment you are making?


It can get overwhelming knowing where best to spend our money and time if we haven’t thought through what we most want for our kids. I don’t want to get to the end of my full-time parenting role and realize that I focused more on achievement and worldly success than I did on nurturing my kid’s heart, soul, and mind.

We don’t get a second chance at creating a childhood.

We must stop focusing so much on what our kids do, but instead, invest in who they are. If we care about raising kids of good character, then we must seek out opportunities for our children to develop those traits.

Sleepaway summer camp is one way to strengthen and fortify not only your child but your entire family. It’s not easy, nor cheap, to send your kid several states away to the woods, where you can’t communicate with them except by handwritten letters through the mail.

There is no technology allowed at camp, so our kids have to talk with others face-to-face. Building this skill alone is worth sending your children off. Get your nose out of a screen and truly get to know someone and in turn get to know yourself. Yep, I’ll pay for that experience.

We say we want to raise resilient, responsible, humble, compassionate kids but do we take the time to invest in areas to build those qualities? Or do we continue to stick them in specialized camps and classes that may further them in what they already do, but that don’t build who we want them to become?

Maybe sleep away summer camp is the missing piece to the resume that we are desperately trying to build for our kids today. We are under the false impression that colleges want students who achieve top grades, excel on their sports teams and participate in various clubs while racking up community service hours.


A lot of young adults who’ve juggled all of those wonderful things can’t function when they head off into the real world.

Colleges today want students who can work independently and who are confident in paving their future without relying on Mommy or Daddy to tell them what move to make next. Many young adults are heading to universities incompetent to face the realities of being on their own for the first time. They don’t know how to fill out their paperwork or chose their classes because their parents have facilitated their entire lives until this point.


Perhaps sending our foursome to spend time in the woods instead of a stellar solo sport or academic camp will set our kids back. But, what I truly believe is that we’ve found something way more valuable in the form of sleeping overnight in a hammock in the Ozarks surrounded by the stars and strangers.

That, my friends, is the kind of investment I will continue to make for my kids and the soul of our entire family all day long.

Back to putting tea tree ointment on my babies cuts and scrapes, as only a Mom can.

2 replies
  1. AmyRyb
    AmyRyb says:

    I give you credit! My oldest is nine and while he has spent a weekend without us at lacrosse training camp, I find myself increasingly nervous about sending him to a camp with swimming, hiking, or other activities where he could get hurt or make a dangerous decision. I know I just need to trust God with it, but it’s certainly not easy. My son is also very hesitant to do something like this, but he has Celiac disease and there’s a camp near us that caters to Celiac kids. It’s only 3-4 days and I think he would have a great time, but it’s hard to force him. Maybe someday.

    Also, I couldn’t help but wonder about your newest addition – I assume he’s maybe too young at this point? Hopefully he enjoyed some amazing “only child” time with you two instead!

    • Amy Carney
      Amy Carney says:

      Hi Amy! We didn’t begin sending our kids until they were 12 and 13. I never went to summer camp growing up so it was never anything I thought about doing for my kids until I began watching and learning from friends I respect who sent their kids off. I viewed camp as a way for parents to catch a break until I understood the real benefits. Yours are still young!! But, good to start thinking about what that might look like in the future? Our kids did NOT want to go the first year, so it was very difficult to drop them off knowing they were less than thrilled. Been very rewarding to watch them grow through the experience.

      Thank you so much for asking and thinking about our little guy. Yes, he stayed home with us for one week and one of his teachers kept him for the other week so that my husband and I could get away for a few nights without any kids! He did get to go overnight in northern Arizona for a few nights with a camp here for kids who have been adopted from foster care. He loved it and felt proud that he too got to experience camp!

      That’s awesome that there’s a camp for kids with Celiac near you. I know the camp my kids go to, there are a lot of kids on Celiac diets as well. Thanks Amy for reading and commenting!


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