I used to believe that parents sent their kids off to sleepaway summer camp because they didn’t want to be with them.
I now know that this couldn’t be further than the truth.
Parents who make sleepaway summer camp a part of their family plan understand the value of all that is learned and gained through such an experience. Sending our teenagers to Kanakuk sleepaway summer camp in Missouri has been a part of our family plan for the last five years and is not something that we decided spur of the moment to do because we were tired of being with them.
Sending our teens to sleepaway summer camp has been one of the best investments we have made in our family.
Anyone who sends their children to camp knows it’s expensive and a lot of work to do so. Have you ever labeled 64 pairs of underwear with a sharpie? It would be a whole lot easier to send our sons and daughter to the grandparents’ house who have requested to have them anytime rather than send them to camp.
But, we’re not looking for easy. We’re not looking for convenience.
We’re not looking just to catch a break.
We’re looking for impactful, eternal investment.
Growing up, I never knew kids that went away to camp. I went overnight once to Little Hoosier Camp and my husband didn’t last more than a night away at his hockey camp a few miles from his home in Providence as a child. As parents with minimal experience in this realm, we would’ve never even thought about sending the kids off to a sleepaway camp, if it weren’t for observing some dear friends who believe in summer camp as part of their family plan.
Sending our kids to sleepaway summer camp is a sacrifice.
As parents, we don’t even allow our kids to go to sleepovers and keep them close to home most days. We’re not completely comfortable with the idea of being apart from our sons and daughter for weeks at a time, but feel it’s important, for all of us, so we faithfully make it happen.
5 REASONS WHY WE SEND OUR KIDS OFF TO SLEEPAWAY SUMMER CAMP
1. Camp builds their confidence and intrinsic motivation
The camp provides time for the kids to figure out how they want to spend their time, without Mom or Dad hovering over them. We spend so much of our family time shuttling our kids to their programmed sports and activities that there is little time for them to think of what they really want to be doing.
Their youth sports seasons are so long now that unfortunately most days it’s like going to a job for them. Camp allows them the freedom to choose whatever feels fun to them at the moment.
2. It’s an opportunity to be uncomfortable
Our kids get nervous about going off to camp and I have to say the same goes for my husband and I. As parents, we want our foursome getting out of their comfort zone though. We want them to learn resilience and independence away from us in a safe setting. What better time to do that than now?
We separate the triplets in their own cabins which they aren’t thrilled about. At home, they share a bedroom and enjoy being together. At least they will meet up at activities, where daughter dear is truly on her own at a different camp 45 minutes around the lake from her brothers.
3. Tech-free Time
This alone is a major reason to send kids off to camp today. Even though our sons and daughter are still living without cell phones, they do have Ipads and boy do they love starting every summer day with them. Video games and Instagram fill every quiet minute they have.
How wonderful it will be to have a group of kids together playing outdoors without any gadgets in hand. Perhaps they will even learn skills to converse in person with other human beings.
We must mindfully provide our children with opportunities to live without technology in order to gain important lifelong skills.
4. Spend downtime in nature and learn new skills in the Great Outdoors
Let’s be honest Arizona is nowhere you want to spend your summer. Our July through September is equivalent to winter in Chicago. You just bear it, but you definitely don’t want to spend much time outside. The only outdoor playtime for kids here is in the swimming pool. Camp will give them the ability to enjoy activities on the lake as well as sports and other outdoor fun that they wouldn’t get to do here at home.
5. Meet new friends and gain mentors
Living without any family nearby, we purposely seek out positive mentorship for our kids. At camp, they are able to meet people from a different region than where they are growing up which is a benefit. Our sons and daughter also get to live under the mentorship of Christian college students and Biblically trained teachers who have chosen to spend their summer with them.