Saturday, March 22, 2014

To Sleepaway Camp or not to Sleepaway...that is the question!

So I was talking to a friend and he told me I was overprotective. When I asked how or why (because although I am protective, I also consider myself pretty laid back), he mentioned the fact that I wouldn't let my kids go to sleepaway camp. My kids are 10 and 12 and although he is right, in the past I wouldn't allow them to, the fact is my kids have never shown an interest in going to sleepaway camp...AT  ALL!

His claim is that sleepaway camp builds character and fosters independence as well as being fun. He feels that it is like pushing the nestlings out of the nest so to speak. And he may be right...for his kids.

Here is what I kids have tons of character, think for themselves, and know what they want and don't want. They have friends of all ages, from all sorts of walks of life, both children and adult. They can cook meals, clean house, and  grocery shop...if needed.
Up to this year, my daughter has not wanted to go to camp at all, though we did encourage nature camp (day camp) and she attended a few years, but just didn't take to it. She used to go to girlscout camp (day camp) and didn't really like it much. So we didn't push her. And this year she has asked to go to Fashion Design Camp (day camp) and she is going.  She has a few friends who LOVE sleepaway camp. One friend even goes to camp for a MONTH. But she has zero interest and I really don't thing kids need to go away to camp for a week so that works out well.
My son has always been more social than his sister. He loves camp. He goes to camp every year, be it Cub Scouts, or nature camp. This year it is Design your first video game camp.  But all are day camps. When he was a scout, I talked to him about sleepaway camp, but he didn't want to go. And I think that is ok.

Do I think I am sheltering my children and thus stifling their independence? ABSOUTELY NOT. We go away as a family to a huge camp out every summer. Both children have progressed from sleeping in the cabin with my husband and I and our youngest to staying in their own tents or in tents with friends in another area of the campground. We are there for 8 days. My children get themselves to their activities, may sure they have everything they need, make it to meals, etc. But within the confines of a loving community of trusted adults. Not at a camp where they don't know the counselors until they show up at the camp.

 We also go to various festivals, one being a fairie festival, where my children have progressed from staying with me exclusively to running errands (getting drinks, etc) by themselves, to going around the festival by themselves and just checking in from time to time. They know a few vendors from having attended year after year and my daughter has a pseudo job running errands for the critter guy who has snakes and other fun friends. She also gets to stand around all day holding lizards and snakes, etc. I trust that they will not go out the front gate FOR ANY REASON, and because I now work the festival and because we have a few acquaintances there, I feel safe letting them have this independence.

So I don't think I am overprotective, but I do believe I am selectively protective while also allowing independence when my children are ready for it. My children know how to and enjoy interacting with both children and adults. We homeschool because we believe in real world experience and we believe that the public schools are failing out children as a whole. I feel that many (not all, I try so hard not to just generalize) sleepaway camps are just an extension to the pubic school model. A large amount kids sorted into same or close age groupings with a few adults to supervise and instruct.And although I know they are not the norm, there is always the fear that some counselor will get it in their head to touch one of my kids in a "bad touch" sort of way.  This is just not what I want for my children. And I don't think they suffer one bit from not having this experience.

Just a final note to say...I AM NOT ANTI-SLEEP AWAY CAMP. Not at all, but I am anti-sleepaway camp for my children. And that is okay.

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