How to Manage Several Summer Specialty Camps
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Plan a family activity for the time in between camp sessions, even if it's for just a day - it can be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect as a family. "Other activities can get in the way, and then everyone can feel cheated out of what would be special family time," says Dr. Thurber.
Make the Most of Momentum
When camp ends (particularly if it's the session your children enjoyed the most) feelings of disappointment and sadness can surface. "Letdown is natural. When kids get involved in something, they're bound to make attachments and get caught up in the moment," says Ditter, who adds that it's important to talk with your children about what they've learned and about the friends they've made.Encouraging them to maintain the friendships they've made can also help, and with texting, email, and social networking, it's easier than ever. Many camps also have newsletters, a yearbook or directory, and online bulletin boards. If your children miss the activities, you can look for other opportunities for them to participate later in the summer or during the school year.
Attending a variety of camps can also make it difficult for your camper to be completely immersed and make the most out of each one. Visit the camp's website, go to an open house, and learn as much as you can about what the average skill level and experience of the campers is and what will be expected of them. "The social adjustment is going to be much more difficult if there's a mismatch," says Dr. Thurber.
Remind your children of their strengths, whether they're talented at dance or great at making friends. "When kids feel reassured about what their strengths are, and that they're going to be able to call on those strengths when they go to a program, they feel 'I can handle this,'" Ditter explains.
Time for Zen
Between driving from one camp to the next, packing and unpacking, and juggling the long list of to-do's, finding time for yourself can be tough. You can be sure you're not overcommitting yourself or your family if you schedule obligations first and then fit in the other activities you would like to do later. "It's a great stress reliever to occasionally say 'no' to an optional commitment," advises Dr. Thurber. He reiterates that it's okay to decline an invitation if it would otherwise make your family's schedule too hectic.
Scheduling some "me-time" can also ensure you don't burn out. "The best thing you can do for your child is to have your own life. If you don't have places where you're seeing your friends, or getting your batteries recharged, kids see that," says Ditter. So plan things to look forward to - a date night with your partner, a girl's night out, or even a half hour to read or call a friend. It can make all the difference between stressed out and serenity.