Camp Sick?

It is hard to believe that we are packing the trunks to go home already! Tomorrow we will say goodbye to what has been an absolutely incredible summer…one that took commitment, perseverance, resilience, and incredible partnership with our parents, campers, and our amazing staff.  Amidst a global pandemic, food delivery challenges, staffing shortages, and unexpected weather, our Watitoh family created the bubble, remained healthy and safe, and on top of it all, HAD THE BEST SUMMER OF OUR LIVES!  We all needed this more than ever before and how lucky are we to have accomplished seven amazing weeks in our summer home!? We are forever grateful…

We also wanted to email with some final thoughts on the summer and a heads up on what the transition home may look like. For some campers, they walk out of their cars or off the buses and right back into the swing of things. For most, the transition has its ups and downs.

During their summer at Watitoh, our campers have learned exciting new skills, built amazing friendships, created wonderful memories and stepped outside of their comfort zone to try new things. They are all standing a little taller, both in height and confidence, and displaying an incredible amount of growth.  They will be happy to be home, in the comfort of their own rooms, with their parents, siblings, pets, and extended family. At the same time, they will be conflicted with missing camp, their counselors, friends, and the overall environment they have been living in for many weeks. All of this makes sense and is to be expected. The biggest challenge that campers and parents face is balancing the happiness of being at home and the sadness of being away from camp.

Below is an article that was published by a friend of ours, Jessica Michaels, of the American Camp Association about how to help your camper’s adjust to re-entry. At the bottom of the email, there are two links to other articles that have been shared with us as well. We recommend reading them before arrival home so that you are prepared for the many mixed emotions your camper(s) may be presenting throughout the next few days.

Enjoy those first embraces, listen to their stories, monitor technology time since they have survived without it for two months, give them space, let them sing, and give yourself some of the credit for giving them this beautiful gift of camp.

We are so grateful for having the opportunity to spend our summer with each and every one of our campers and staff and we thank you for choosing us to share in this chapter in their lives. We look forward to seeing all of you over the winter and please lookout for our summer 2022 enrollment opening in the next few days!

Sending hugs,

Britton and Drew

Easing Back into Home Life After Camp (Published here): 

How do you ease your child back into home life after they’ve been basking in the heavenly independence of camp for so long over the summer? Sleepaway camp is an integral part of so many childrens’ lives, so Jess Michaels at the American Camp Association is here to give us tips to help the transition from camp to home.

It’s been a long couple of weeks and you are beyond happy for your child to return home after being at overnight camp.  But don’t be too surprised if your child isn’t that excited to come home! Try not to take it too personally. Camp has become your child’s home away from home—where they have been immersed in their own camp world, living among counselors and close friends and participating in the rituals and traditions of their camp community. Be happy that your child had a wonderful summer away, full of learning new activities, building strong friendships and gaining important life skills. Here are a few tips you can use to help your child transition back to home after an awesome summer at overnight camp.

Down time – Your child may come home from camp and just want to relax. After all, your child has been busy with amazing camp activities all day, every day for weeks! Try not to schedule too much for your child the first few days they are home.  Let your child adjust to home life and just chill out for a bit before getting back into other activities.

Give Your Child Some Space – Remember, your child has been away from you for a few weeks now. They have gained independence and have been making decisions about what to wear or what foods to eat without your input. Let your child practice this new found independence and allow for some more choice at home.

Talk about camp – Your child is used to living and breathing camp 24/7. Let your child continue to talk about camp at home. Ask questions about the experience but try to refrain yourself from firing off too many questions. Let your child tell you about camp in their own time.

Put a date on the calendar – Your child will be missing their camp friends from the minute they get home so schedule a get-together with your child’s bunk for early fall.  Remember to invite everyone—leaving a few children out creates hurt feelings and tension among the group.

Home friends – Of course your child will want to see their home friends but don’t worry if it’s not the first thing they want to do.  Camp friends are special—after all, these kids live, eat and do a lot of activities together.  They become like family.  Your child may need some time to transition from being with their camp friends to getting together with their home friends.

Consider a technology reset – Your child not only survived but thrived at camp without the use of an iPad or phone.  Now is a good time to consider a technology reset and set some limitations on screen time if needed.

Spend time together – With just a few weeks left until school begins, plan some fun outings as a family. Although you gave your child the gift of camp this summer, you missed them and now it’s time for family time!

Acknowledge the gift you gave them – Take a moment to appreciate the big decision you made to send your child to camp. It wasn’t an easy one but now that your child is home, you can witness all the amazing growth your child has gone through while away from home.

Jess Michaels is the Director of Communications for the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of the summer camp experience.  American Camp Association Accreditation is a parents’ best evidence of a camp’s commitment to a safe and nurturing environment for their child.


Other articles: