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Post Camp RE-ENTRY

Posted by on August 23, 2019

Post camp RE-ENTRY:
How Parents Can Help Children Transition Well

by Andrea Gurney, PhD, Deer Run Alumna,  & Camp Mom

 

Campers investigating Frog Pond

The sweet time on the shores of Winnipesauke and Heald Pond have somehow come and gone. Campouts, blobbing, Color wars, waterskiing, Narnia, morning devos, and Chapel times filled and nurtured our children’s hearts, minds, and bodies. And now it’s over. Our kids are back home, getting ready to transition to the school year yet still holding on to the memories of camp. How can we help them re-enter smoothly? Here are some quick tips to help both parents and campers reboot.

 1. Give your kiddo space. Like all of us, kids need time and space to process an experience. Although we as parents are incredibly eager to “hear all about it”, let’s be mindful that our children are still mulling over their camp experience and insisting that they share it all right away impedes their process.

2. LISTEN actively when your child wants to share about camp. Refrain from questioning, correcting, or giving instruction, as this undermines the choices they made and ultimately, their competence and confidence. Simply take the posture of a listener and allow stories and memories to be shared over time!

3. Related to the first two points, remember that being away at camp has given kids psychological ownership – the feeling that it belongs to them. It’s one of the reasons (whether we realize it or not!) that we send kids to camp. We want them to grow and be challenged, develop grit, and become more independent. So be intentional and respectful of their psychological ownership– what happened to them at camp belongs to them. What a freeing gift!

4. Continue to foster independence. While our kids were away at camp, they took care of themselves. They applied their own sunscreen, packed their backpacks for the overnight, brushed their own teeth, and maybe even showered once or twice. They even did chores in the cabin and undoubtedly, learned new skills. Often, they are eager to show off their newfound abilities. (Anyone else have campers who are arguing over who gets to be “Jennie or Waiter” for the day?) So let’s be mindful to continue to foster their growth and independence! It’s way too easy to slip back into the pattern of doing things for our kids; our brains, after all, prefer what is automatic and to change an old routine requires more attention and mental energy.

5. Cultivate emotional intelligence and problem solving. Remember that while our kids were at Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, or Moose River Outpost, they navigated emotional, social, and mental challenges without you! They figured out how to interact with a bossy bunkmate, listen to others who had a different perspective, problem solve when they didn’t get their first or second choice activities during sign-ups, make new friends, navigate group situations, and the list goes on. So when you’re tempted to jump in and help rescue your kiddo from a sticky social situation, don’t! Instead, acknowledge the difficulty, provide comfort and empathy, and then give them the time and space to figure it out on their own, just like they did at camp.

Camp friends already! This crew is following their parents’ camp footsteps. (Susan Bradley & York Arico, Kate Bradley MacLeod and Dan DiBase) Andrea’s Deer Runners, Madeline and Kate Hashbarger, are pictured far right.

6. On a more sentimental note, keep the memory of camp alive! For my girls, that includes things such as: displaying their rockets made at camp in their rooms; having their camp song book on our kitchen table so we can sing a camp songs together; continuing to use their camp devotional book; watching the chapel and banquet clips posted on Instagram and Facebook from their session; watching the July and August finale videos on YouTube, and reviewing and sharing the Bible verses they learned at camp.

Camp offers so many gifts to not only our children, but to us as parents. May we continue to reap the benefits of what our children learned at camp as we welcome them home and build our fall routines.

Thank you to all of those at Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost for investing in the lives of our children. You have challenged them, cared for them, nurtured them, and loved them well. This is, I believe, perhaps the greatest thing we can be a part of —nurturing another soul and building Kingdom relationships.

 

Andrea Gurney, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor of psychology at Westmont College, and author of Reimagining Your Love Story: Biblical and Psychological Practices for Healthy Relationships. An East Coast camp girl at heart, and Camp Deer Run (Alton, NH) staff alumna, she currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA with her husband, two daughters, and playful goldendoodle. Connect with her at AndreaGurney.com or Instagram @andrea_gurney for practical tips and insights on life!

 

 

 

Prayer Makes a Difference

Posted by on August 16, 2019

Prayer Makes a Difference

Madeleine Schlenz, RN and Camp mom

Camp nursing is different from serving in a hospital: it’s a little bit of mothering, a lot of community health and a ton of smiles and reassurance. Whenever possible, I take time to pray with the kids who come to receive care, and this week I was reminded of the difference that makes.

Homesickness strikes early at camp. Within the first few days we see some kids struggle with being away from family. One that I met this summer will stick with me forever.

A young camper attending Camp Brookwoods from overseas came to visit the Loon on his first night. He was clearly fighting back the tears and just wanted to go home. We spent time with him, encouraged him and prayed with him. Then, he reluctantly went back to his cabin.

The next night he stopped by, less weepy but still wanting to spend time with us. When I asked him if I could pray for him, his demeanor changed and he quickly told me he would love that.

Three nights in, he melted my heart.

While other campers were getting ready for bed, he walked into the Loon (our medical facility) smiling, and just stood there. We asked him about his day. He smiled as he told us what he had done and about all the fun he had. Then we asked if he needed a good night hug. He shook his head, no.  We asked if he wanted some water or if he needed anything medical. Again, he shook his head, no. Puzzled, we asked what we could do for him.

He dropped his head, kicked his feet a bit, then looked up and shyly asked, “Could you pray for me? It really makes a difference.”

I about lost it. I ran to him, hugged him, and wanted to keep hugging him. The other medical staff joined me as we thanked God for this child and prayed for him, lifting him up to a Heavenly Father who is well aware of everything the boy felt and the struggle he was having.

Oh, to have the faith of a child; to simply come and ask for help through prayer! This boy didn’t have a concern with how he looked or what others would think to keep him away. He just came. He wasn’t caught up in his own pride or self-sufficiency. He was vulnerable. He took one small step toward us and we all rushed to meet his request.

Our staff that night consisted of two RNs and an MD, we had plenty of skill, we were confident in our ability to diagnose and treat physical issues, but God wanted us to remember the importance and the power of prayer, because, “It really makes a difference.”

The staff at the Loon is usually busy caring for the physical needs of campers. But this summer, God used a young boy from another country, to show us how much He cares for us, to lift our heads and hearts upward to a God who wants to be brought into everything we do, and to remind us of the value of childlike faith.

 

Madeline and her husband Jeff live in Annadale, VA and they had three campers at Brookwoods and Deer Run this summer, Benjamin, Christopher and Karisa. Before coming to Brookwoods and Deer Run she served on the medical team at Camp Sandy Cove in WV. Her favorite thing to do at camp is fellowshipping with the larger body of Christ and being reminded of God’s involvement in different parts of the world, as well as enjoying the super amazing slushies in the Camp Store. Visit her blog at TurnAside.org (it’s a work in progress :-).