In a few days, our kids will shut down their technology. All Snapchat streaks must come to an end.
They will bid farewell to their normally scheduled academic and athletic programming and head to the woods.
Our four teenagers will go live amongst strangers and bugs and humidity and uncomfortable beds. I’m going to assume they brush their teeth, put on deodorant and apply sunscreen on some of the days, but I can’t be so sure.
What I know for sure is that these few weeks at summer camp will be some of the most important days spent in their childhood.
We view our kids time away at summer camp, without the comforts of home, as essential for their growth.
Because camp is uncomfortable and stretches us all. Sending kids to sleep away camp is a way to build strong lifelong traits in our children. What our youth don’t need this summer is more time in a classroom or more hours hanging out on technology or a familiar sports field.
What our children need is time away in nature to decompress and grow.
We purposefully send our foursome to Kanakuk to build strong character. Our beloved children go to summer camp to increase their faith, inner strength, tenacity, resilience, grit, and relational skills.
We also send them to camp so we as Mom and Dad can begin to learn how to live apart from our kids so we don’t fall apart when they leave our home in a few short years.
It’s essential for parents to seek out experiences that make our comfortable kids uncomfortable.
At home, our children are extremely comfortable. They spread out on our soft leather sectional couch scrolling through their i-phone social media apps, playing games and texting friends while looking up at the TV for ESPN updates or to view one of their recorded shows. They may open their summer reading books for school if we harass them enough or threaten to pull the tv plug out of the wall or shut down the wifi router altogether.
There is no personal growth going on from that comfy couch even though it sure feels good.
We must create opportunities to forge resilience in our kids today.
Childhood isn’t what it used to be friends. I used to climb high trees and then figure out how to get myself down before jumping on my bike to meet up with friends until the street lights came on and it was time to head home. There was a lot of downtime to get into some trouble and also figure out how to get ourselves out of it too.
Today childhood is predictable.
As parents, we plot, plan and cultivate our kids days for success.
We don’t want our kids climbing trees because they may hurt themselves plus it’s a waste of time. Our minivans and the Uber app have replaced the freedom of riding around solo on two wheels. Not to mention the fact that we’re afraid to even let our offspring tool around the neighborhood unless we’re able to track them. Our insecurities are hindering our children from becoming confident, independent and resilient individuals.
What traits do you want your children to embody as young adults leaving your nest?
You must create opportunities to build those attributes in your children now.
I want my teenagers comfortable talking to new people in person without hiding behind technology. I want them to learn to get along with those they may not necessarily choose to be friends with at home. I want them tipping over in their sailboat with rain clouds overhead wondering if they will survive the adventure and living to tell us all about it through their written letters home.
Culture no longer presents kids with simple opportunities to build strong lifelong traits like it once did. We, parents, must purposely create these moments for our children so they can see what they are made of.
Sending kids to a camp that fits your family values is a great way to strengthen your child this summer.
Have you thought about sleep-away summer camp as a part of your family plan?