This summer marks my first time sending my boys to sleepover camp.
I don’t know the protocol as I never even went to sleepover camp myself. But if a camp emails to say your kid is adjusting and having fun, I’m going to assume that’s actually what’s happening.
Instead, my son got off the bus after three nights at overnight camp and told me he hated it and is never going back there. “Why didn’t you get me?” he asked.
I would have gotten him if I’d known he was struggling to such an extent. Apparently, he cried the whole bus ride there, was made to take anti-nausea medicine if he wanted to sit in the first 10 rows of the bus and he was forced to shower naked instead of in a bathing suit, which would have made him more comfortable. He also tried to send me a letter, but because the tone of his letter wasn’t, “I’m having the best time ever,” the camp never scanned and emailed it to me.
It’s all pretty upsetting as a parent. If my kid wasn’t ready for overnight camp and wasn’t adjusting well, don’t they have a responsibility to tell me? Shouldn’t I be allowed to know what’s happening, evaluate the information and decide whether or not I should get him? And I know technology is a great thing and that email is faster than snail mail, but are camps allowed to censor a child’s letters?
On the other hand, I know it takes kids a while to adjust, especially when they are at overnight camp for the first time. By being brutally honest with parents, campers might never get the chance to adapt and enjoy themselves. If every parent came to “rescue” their child at the first sign of trouble, they would deprive their child of the chance to learn independence, life skills and have fun.
By getting them, am I teaching them that I’m there for them and support them no matter what or am I offering them a way out of every uncomfortable situation? If I leave them there to adjust, am I betraying their trust or helping them build confidence?
I have no experience to build on. What would you do?