As the Director of Kettleby Valley, an Ontario Summer Camp, I have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of parents. Over the years I’ve learned that, as parents, we hate to see our children struggle. The desire to protect our children is not unique to today’s families. Rather, it’s the way we define the term ‘struggle’ that separates us from other generations.
Most of the campers at Kettleby Valley are excited and enthusiastic about their upcoming camp experience. Yet, there are others who are ‘hesitant campers’. Throughout the year we receive comments from parents such as, ‘this is my daughter’s first overnight camp and we want her paired up with her cousin in order to make this a success.’ Most summer camps consider group requests as reasonable and we do our best to accommodate. However, what’s lost is the benefit that a child gains from learning to manage the anxiety of entering into a new adventure.
Camp is a safe environment filled with people who are supportive and eager to help children through the tough times and anxious moments of being away from home for the first time. The same cannot be said for other challenges that are waiting for our kids down the road.
It’s perfectly natural for us as parents to want to help our children in any way we can. We know that the decision to send our kids to camp can be difficult, particularly when they’re hesitant about the experience. And resisting the temptation to control the experience in some fashion is equally as challenging. However, the parents that manage to do so will be taking a large step towards developing a healthy sense of independence within their child.