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summer camp

How to Respond to a Homesick Letter from Your Camper

The Sad Letter You’re anticipating with much excitement your camper’s first letter from camp. It finally arrives, and this is what it says… “I want to come home!” “It’s awful here.” “I hate everything.” “This ...

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Homesickness Dos & Don’ts

Resources/Related Messages for an Anxious Camper 10 Messages for a Homesick Camper Ep. 37: Tips for First-Time Camp Parents Ep. 39: How to Handle Your Camper’s Homesickness Ep. 10: Homesick & Happy with Michael Thompson Homesick ...

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The Blessing of the Least Favorite Activity

Wendy Mogel’s best selling book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, resonated with me. I can relate much of her message to camp and to my own family.   I heard Dr. Mogel speak at a ...

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What are good questions to ask when selecting a camp program?

What are good questions to ask when selecting a camp program for your child? In this video, I go over some of the things to consider, research, and ask about. In my Ask Me Anything ...

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Happy Campers: Gold Arrow Camp (Huntington Lake, CA)

Gold Arrow Camp “This year our [camp] theme is “Filling Buckets,” which I’m pretty excited about. It comes from a great children book. But the gist of it is that we all have this invisible ...

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Happy Campers: Wilderness Adventures (U.S. & Abroad)

Wilderness Adventures “We want all of our students walking away with a sense of accomplishment. Not only from the trail, but from making new friends, from taking on new challenges, from doing things their laundry ...

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Happy Campers: Kennolyn Camps (Santa Cruz, CA)

Kennolyn Camps “We do have a philosophical belief that kids actually, and humans in general, have good friend making skills. What they need is coaching and practice.” (Andrew Townsend) Andrew Townsend (right) Video of the ...

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Happy Campers: AstroCamp (Idyllwild, CA)

AstroCamp “Our mission is making a difference in the lives of children through discovery.” (Diana Huff) Video of the AstroCamp interview with Diana Huff AstroCamp https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=D1J0RJ6E1y8 ...

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Happy Campers: Camp Granite Lake (Golden, CO)

Camp Granite Lake “Our mission, our goal, is to be intrinsic to someone’s lifelong growth through their connections with nature and each other.” (Tommy Feldman) Tommy Feldman & Family Video of the Camp Granite Lake ...

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Happy Campers: Skylake Yosemite Camp (Bass Lake, CA)

Skylake Yosemite Camp “I was a camper for ten years, I was on staff for a lot of years, so my roots are summer camp.” (Adrienne Portnoy-Durgin) Adrienne Portnoy-Durgin Video of the Skylake Yosemite Camp ...

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Happy Campers: Camp Deerhorn (Rhinelander, WI)

Camp Deerhorn “Every Sunday we have a ‘words of wisdom.’ It’s non-denominational, it’s just a very short talk that one of our counselors gives about something that is meaningful in their life.” (Amy Broadbridge) Amy ...

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Happy Campers: Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp (Bass Lake, CA)

Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp “We built in a culture to where there’s many times during the day for a staff member to affirm a camper. And not for just what they look like, and not ...

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Is it better to go to camp with a friend?

Ask Me Anything About Summer Camp Series Why do parents send their kids to summer camp? What’s the best age for camp? ...

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Why do parents send their kids to summer camp?

Camp-Related Posts/Podcast Episodes Happy Campers Interview Series with Camp Directors 100 Questions About Summer Camp Ep. 74: Why Summer Camp? 5 Essential Summer Camp Packing Tips Every Parent Should Know 5 Fun Ideas for Letters ...

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Happy Campers: Carmel Valley Tennis Camp (CA)

Carmel Valley Tennis Camp is located in Carmel Valley, California and is camp for boys and girls ages 10-18. Sessions are one or two weeks. This Happy Campers Interview is with Susan Reeder and Steve ...

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Happy Campers: Camp Chippewa for Boys (Cass Lake, MN)

Camp Chippewa for Boys is located in Cass Lake, Minnesota and is camp for boys ages 8 – 17. Sessions are four or eight weeks. This Happy Campers Interview is with Camp Directors Mike and ...

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100 Questions About Summer Camp

Over my three decades as a summer camp director, I’ve been asked thousands of questions about camp from parents, campers, and young adult counselors. Much of my research, writing, podcast topics, and speaking has emerged ...

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Why Summer Camp May be the Secret to a Longer Life

Last week, during my training with camp staff about friendship skills, I showed them this video: I then asked our staff to share what similarities they found between summer camp and the small village in ...

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Why Making Friends is One of the Most Important Things that Happens at Summer Camp

“Friendship is the gold of childhood” Michael Thompson, Ph.D. When I saw this TED Talk by Susan Pinker, “The Secret to Living Longer May be Your Social Life,” I was reminded once again of the ...

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Want an Independent, Self Confident, Resilient Kid? Summer Camp Can Help!

While it’s easy to think of ways to teach our kids to do laundry or solve math problems, finding a way to instill important character traits isn’t as simple. The way we model traits we ...

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Too Much Screen Time? 4 Ways Summer Camp Can Help

I’ve learned to face my fears, I’ve tried new things, and I have learned that you don’t always need to have your phone or video games. -Kimberly, Camper Children between eight and ten years old ...

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Why Teens Need Summer Camp More Than Ever

Being at camp gives me this sense of belonging that I’ve never felt anywhere else. I know that I can be myself and that my cabin mates will love me for who I am, and I’ve brought ...

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10 Messages for a Homesick Camper

Many kids experience some homesickness at camp – most often the sad feelings flare up during down times like meals, rest time, or at bedtime. While they’re busy with activities and their minds are occupied, ...

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5 Tips for Surviving Your Child’s First Stay at Overnight Camp

Your child’s at summer camp? That’s so exciting! And hard. For some of you, an internal “WA HOO!” went off as the bus filled with excited campers and their duffle bags pulled away. But for ...

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10 Reasons Great Parents Choose Summer Camp for Their Kids

My shy, quiet nine-year-old went to camp not knowing a soul. Two weeks later, she came home transformed.  She blossomed. She made friends, learned a multitude of activities, felt safe, loved, confident, and happy — ...

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5 Essential Summer Camp Packing Tips Every Parent Should Know

[cp_modal display=”inline” id=”cp_id_62cbe”][/cp_modal] Your camp forms are filled out and you know where the bus drop-off point is. Now it’s time for the final step in getting your camper ready for camp – packing! I’ve ...

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Why Being a Camp Counselor is the Best Summer Job

In the summer of 1987, I returned for my second year as a camp counselor. Those summers 30 years ago were transformational for me, and I’ve since witnessed thousands of other lives that have been ...

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Giving Kids Our Full Attention

Giving Kids our Full Attention Rapport feels good, generating the harmonious glow of being simpatico, a sense of friendliness where each person feels the other’s warmth, understanding, and genuineness. These mutual feelings likely strengthen the ...

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The Power of Positive Words

Well, I don’t know the child that was returned to me on Saturday. It definitely wasn’t the child I dropped off two weeks earlier. The only logical explanation is that your camp is magic. Magic transformed my ...

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Dear Parent Hitting the Refresh Button (again) to View Camp Photos

Dear Parent Hitting the Refresh Button (again) to View Camp Photos, I know your pain. I’m on your side of the computer this week, waiting for a glimpse of one of my children at his ...

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Campsickness: 10 Tips for Easing the Re-entry Home

“I miss camp so much. I just got back today.” -Emma From pictures posted on Instagram in the days following camp (and for the rest of the year), the message is clear. Some kids really ...

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7 Reasons to Get Outside

Next to unplugging, one of my favorite things to talk about is spending time outside. In fact, I believe the combination of unplugging AND spending time outside may be the answer to many of life’s ...

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Questions for Connection

When the calendar turns to spring, my mind turns full steam into counselor training mode. I can’t help it. After 31 years of preparing counselors for their summer working with kids at camp, I can’t ...

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5 Reasons NOT to Worry While Your Kids are at Camp

Worrying when our kids are away from us is normal for parents. Every time I’ve ever dropped my kids off for a new adventure without me, I’m excited for them. But I’m also concerned about ...

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Surviving and Thriving (in High School and Life)

Many kids struggle with their sense of worth and forget who they really are during high school. For high achieving kids, some get so caught up in the tests and grades that they start believing that they ...

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Five (MORE) Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids to Camp

There are so many reasons great parents choose to send their kids to summer camp. Two years ago, I shared five of them on the most popular post I’ve ever published. But now I have ...

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How Camp Helps Parents Raise Adults

“The movie Stepford Wives came to mind as I watched my students live their college life still somehow looking to the sidelines for mom or dad’s direction, protection, or intervention as if they were five, ...

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5 Ways Camp Grows Grit

“It turns out that grit predicts performance better than IQ or innate talent. Grit makes our kids productive and successful because it allows them to reach their long-term goals despite life’s inevitable setbacks. This ability ...

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10 Surprising Things Kids Learn at Camp

I would not be the person I am today without camp. -15-year-old camper My three decades of camp experience, coupled with my own and others’ research, have shaped my long-held opinion that camp experiences benefit ...

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10 Ways to Better Understand Your Camper’s Experience

Your camper’s home from camp, and they had a great time. But what exactly was this camp thing all about? If you want to better understand your camper’s experience and how it impacted them, try ...

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5 Fun Ideas for Letters to Campers

When children are at summer camp, parents have a new daily “to do”– write and send a letter or email to their camper! Because we’re not in the habit of writing letters to our kids ...

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Countdown to Camp: 5 Things to do NOW

School is ending and camp is right around the corner. Do you know where your packing list is? I suspected as much. In addition to being a camp director, I’m also a camp parent, so ...

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Secondary Homesickness: When Your Camper doesn’t want to go BACK to Camp

“I don’t want to go back!” Two or three times each year, I get a call from a returning camper’s parent who is baffled that their once-happy camper is now saying she doesn’t want to ...

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The Greatest Internship: 6 Critical Skills Counselors Develop at Camp

This week I’m featuring a guest post by Alison “Bean” Moeschberger, an experienced camp director whose passion is training and guiding counselors to be outstanding at camp and in life. I still cringe every time I hear a ...

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Research finds Children Learn Social Skills at Camp

10 Friendship Skills e-bookSubscribe to my weekly emails with tips for raising thriving kids, and I'll send you my 10 Friendship Skills e-book!envelopeSEND ME THE FRIENDSHIP SKILLS! Last summer, I conducted research on the impact camp ...

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Study Finds Campers Really are Happy

Camp is basically my happy place, and I love being here more than any other place in the world. -Camper, 2014 “Happy camper” is an expression used to describe anyone who’s feeling good about something ...

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Three Character Traits Kids Develop at Camp

While it’s easy to think of ways to teach our kids to do laundry or solve math problems, finding a way to instill important character traits isn’t so simple. The way we model traits we ...

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10 Social Skills Kids Learn at Camp

At one of my son’s soccer games this fall, a mom on our team offered her son $50 for each goal he scored. He had the highest scoring game of his life, and his mom ...

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Five Reasons Every Teen Should go to Summer Camp

Being at camp gives me this sense of belonging that I’ve never felt anywhere else. I know that I can be myself and that my cabin mates will love me for who I am, and ...

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10 Parenting Tips from Camp Counselors

At one time in their lives, many of the parents I know were camp counselors. Those same people have told me that their time spent as counselors was great training ground for parenting. Among other ...

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Top 3 Posts of 2014

Dear Sunshine Parenting Reader, Thank you for reading my posts this year! In 2007, I read a book called Writing to the Change the World. I decided that if something I share helps one person, then writing ...

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3 Life Lessons Learned on a Tow Rope

The recreational sports we teach at camp include sailing, water skiing, rock climbing, and many more fun outdoor sports. But these are not the most important skills campers learn. We view the recreational skills we ...

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Should I Make my Kid go to Camp?

I get asked this question frequently, so I’ve created a grid to help you make the decision. Just see what box you and your child fall in, the grid will tell you “yes,” or “no,” ...

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Why Kids Flourish at Camp

Campers often describe camp as their “happy place”” or “the best two weeks” of their year. And, from my own observation, I’ve seen that kids and the counselors who work with them are obviously happy ...

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What’s the Best Age for Camp?

Ready for Camp ChecklistSubscribe to my weekly emails, and I'll send you my Ready for Camp Checklist.envelopeGET ACCESS You probably want a number here.  If you’re only going to read these first two sentences, then ...

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Five Reasons Great Parents Send Their Kids to Camp

My shy, quiet nine-year-old went to camp not knowing a soul. Two weeks later, she came home transformed.  She blossomed. She made friends, learned a multitude of activities, felt safe, loved, confident, and happy — really, ...

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Making Friends: Managing Difficult Emotions

Here are a few tough questions: • Has anyone ever accused your child of bullying or being mean to another child? • Have you ever seen your child lash out (physically or verbally) at another child? ...

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Friends: Finding Gold in a Plastic Era

“Friendship is the gold of childhood.”   Michael Thompson’s statement stuck with me long after I attended his session on the social lives of millennial children at a recent American Camp Association conference.  I would go ...

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10 Reasons I Heart Camp

In honor of “I Heart Camp” Day (February 1), here are 10 reasons why, as a parent, I love camp for my own kids 1.  Gets them Outside! Camp gets my kids OUTSIDE, breathing fresh ...

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4 Parenting Challenges and How Camp Can Help

In today’s digital, fast-moving, ultra-competitive world, raising kids who grow into happy, independent adults has become more challenging for parents. Quality summer camp programs offer an experience that many parents have found to benefit their child’s ...

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Making Family Dinner like a Campfire

An activity we do at campfires at camp has been helpful in our family at getting our kids to communicate about both positive and negative events in their lives.   For children who don’t normally share ...

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Focusing on Kindness

“Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.” -Marian Wright Edelman This summer’s theme is “Cool 2B Kind.” We’ll focus on being kind to one another and carrying ...

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Parking Your Helicopter

“The study, released Feb. 12, found that behaviors associated with helicopter parenting have a negative impact on the college-aged adult’s feelings of autonomy, competency, and their relationship with their parents. Conventional wisdom in the field ...

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Grit, Goals, and Growth

Gold Arrow Camp has taught me to be brave and reach my goals. If it wasn’t for GAC, I wouldn’t be nearly as courageous as I am now. Remi Grit Grit has become the new ...

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Good Gifts

The best thing you can give your children, next to good habits, are good memories. -Sydney Harris Our home is overrun with more electronic gadgets than there are people.  And, with our kids beyond the ...

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Way Too Much of a Good Thing

Anyone who’s been reading my blog knows that I’m a big proponent of getting kids “unplugged.”  I love that they get two weeks of tech free time to focus on face-to-face relationships while they’re at ...

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Why Can’t School be More Like Camp?

Yesterday, my fourth grade son came home from school downcast.  It’s his third week at a new school, and I had encouraged him to find a friend or two to invite over to swim.   He ...

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Messages for an Anxious Camper

Check out more Summer Camp videos. “Children want to be independent, and they realize that they cannot be truly independent until they beat homesickness, even when they have a painful case of it.” –Michael Thompson, PhD., ...

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Sharing our Highs, Lows, and Buffaloes

What do kids choose to share with their parents about their camp experience, or, for that matter, about any experience? Most kids immediately share about their accomplishments (“I got up on water skis!”), the fun, ...

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Homesickness Help

Homesickness is an emotion that most campers feel to some degree at camp.   Fortunately, in most cases, the fun and excitement of camp far outweigh any sad feelings.   If this is your child’s first experience ...

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“Kidsickness”: Help for First Time Camp Parents

Who’s REALLY not ready for camp? Usually, parents say it’s their kid who’s not ready, but in my experience, the kids are raring to go, and it’s the parents who aren’t ready.   After spending the ...

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Get Unplugged

The January/February, 2011, issue of Stanford Magazine reported on research being done about the impact of time spent online (link to the article provided below). It gave me even more reasons to celebrate that Gold ...

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Hand Written Letters

This week I’ve been going through the many boxes of letters, photos, and memorabilia which I have collected over my first four decades. It’s been a time-consuming task, but I’m trying to organize into a ...

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Nature Pees and Lanyard Fishing Poles

Watching the campers construct fishing poles out of sticks and lanyard string, I had a revelation.  Kids rarely get a chance to play like this any more.   And, boy, are they good at it when ...

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