It’s only October and I am already getting calls of panic from parents who believe their opportunity for summer camp for 2014 has already past. And guess what? There are several full summer camps that are already filled for the summer of 2014. And if full summer camping is the type of experience you want for your children, you really should be staring your research with an open mind as to where, if 2014 is the goal. And yet, there are still so many camps and experiences available… but you have to be in the know.
So let’s check out reality. There are about 2900 summer camps and over 7600 total programs around the world for summer time enjoyment (according to the American Camping Association and I will assume the numbers are actually greater). Figure a minimum of 100 children per session and an average of 2 sessions per program. So, there are approximately 2.1 million plus spots to be filled. You will find something!!!
Granted, there are some programs that fill up in August and others that never fill up. And making the match between your very specific desires and availability may or may not occur ever…. But alas, the odds are in your favor. So stop sweating. Many more things to fret over.
But yet, let’s get down to business and make some decisions. And now we will get into my favorite topic which is PARENT POWER!!!
Question 1: Is a summer experience filled with independence, new experiences, learning, and fresh air something good for your child?
Answer 1: YES
Question 2: What time and budget can you allot to give this independent experience to your child/teen?
Answer 2: Only you know, but figure out the specifics. What dates are they available to go away? How long can they go away? Think both physically and emotionally for both the kids and you. And how much can you afford to spend? Think anywhere between $1500 and $12,000. Every family is different and determine what is right for your personal family needs.
Question 3: What do you want for your child/teen? Yes, I clearly said what do YOU want for your child/teen.
Answer 3: If you had a good experience at camp, you often want to find a similar experience for your child. You want to encourage them to have the same wonderful memories, bonding and experiences that you fondly remember. And of course, if you did not have a good experience, than you are very sensitive to make sure they do not have a repeat of your history. But please make sure that you don’t choose to shelter your child because you had a bad experience. Simply make sure you find the right fit for your child to maximize the probability of a successful experience.
But the real message is…. if you want your child/teen to go away for the growth and development opportunity, you don’t need their permission or buy in. You are the parent. Granted, you want them to “want” to go…. You want them to be excited about the opportunity. But sometimes, they are hesitant for so many reasons that require YOU to be the parent and direct them. Especially the hesitant teenager…. wants to stay home and hang out, wants to go with a friend, doesn’t like anything you present, “you can’t make me” attitude. Or the child who really pulls on you…. “but Mommy, I am going to miss you sooooo much!” How can you possibly send that deliciousness away? Because it is the greatest gift and given the right choice, they will thank you so much years from now.
So there is a simple process for buy in. Ready??
Know your child — their likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses
For teens, know their passions or their lack of passions
Work with an adviser (like me,of course) who knows kids and knows the programs that match
Learn, read, ask questions about the programs suggested specifically for your families’ needs
Narrow down to the top two or three (again, I’ll help you) that make the most sense/cents
Now give the child/teen the option to decide.
The language to use?
This summer, you get to go to a special, exciting program. You get to choose which one you want, but you must choose one. So I have three programs and we are going to look at them together and pick the greatest most exciting one. You (my child) are in charge!!
So now, your child has a sense of control over their own destiny. It worked for me… when my son was 15. And he says he is now my greatest advertising for the positive push forward. He now has a lifelong passion for travel!! Give your kids the same wonderful gift — a strong parental role model and the gift of independence.