Saturday, July 26, 2008


Parent Day at Camp

A contributor to nature deficit is the fact that parents are far more protective of their kids. We simply see too many hazards nowadays to just let the kids roam outdoors. We're all guilty of this, although at different levels.

I still hold my breath when my 15 year old heads out for a run--she's training for cross country next fall--but we let her go, with an agreed upon time for return.

Summer camps, generally very safe environments are dealing with this parental concern more nowadays, and some are hiring counselors, not to deal with kids, but to deal with the kid's parents.
One camp psychologist said she used to spend half her time on parental issues; now it’s 80 percent. Dan Kagan, co-director of Bryn Mawr, has started visiting every new family’s home in the spring and calling those parents on the first or second day of camp to reassure them.
When I went to camp, my parents dropped us and fled the scene. We did not see them or hear from them until pickup day. Not that we had time to think about home, there was too much to do. In this new information age, there are far more ways to communicate, and camps like some of the techniques and reject others.

Cell phones, for example, tend to be forbidden. But parents are sending kids with two cell phones to camp, so if one of the outlawed devices is confiscated, the other can still be used.

Camps have reacted to parent's worries by using the internet to post photos of the kids, so parents can log in and check out the latest activities. My friend Rob's camp does this, along with an ongoing narrative from his Dad, the Camp Director.

"Yes, mom and dad are gone and now real camp may commence. Hurray!"

More here from the NY Times, and a slide show that tells the whole story.