Chapter 7: Maximize your child’s enjoyment
Getting a letter means a lot to your child(ren). Even before they get to camp, write in advance so letters are there in the first few days. Mail service is slow both to and from camp. Letters can take up to 10 days to arrive.
Don’t get carried away! Parents who send letters every day can sometimes, although well intentioned, make a child homesick. We have had some campers that have received a letter every day, some even three letters a day and often those kids tend to be more homesick from so much mail. Although campers need to hear from their parents, please understand that many campers do better with mail 2-3 times a week rather then letters each day.
UNDERSTANDING LETTERS HOME
If your child sounds distressed in a letter, do not be overly concerned. Remember that the letter was written about a week beforehand. Campers’ letters home are usually a “snapshot” of their feelings at that particular moment. We know that when kids feel upset, they’ll use a letter to express their frustration. These moments are most common in their first few days of camp. It is probable that an hour after writing it, they’re up, onto something new and back to being themselves. We are aware of the kids’ emotional swings, but we can use any information we get. If upsetting letters become a trend, let us know. EACH YEAR WE RECEIVE PARENTS PHONING US IN A PANIC ABOUT A BAD LETTER AND IN ALMOST ALL CASES, 99 out of 100, the child is having a great time but used the letter to get out his frustrations at that moment. Also many times it takes awhile for a camper to adjust. There is much truth to the famous song “Hello Muddah”:
Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh
(A Letter From Camp)
Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh,
Here I am at Camp Granada.
Camp is very entertaining,
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.
I went hiking with Joe Spivey.
He developed poison ivy.
You remember Leonard Skinner.
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner.
All the counselors hate the waiters,
And the lake has alligators.
And the head coach wants no sissies,
So he reads to us from something called Ulysses.
Now I don’t want this should scare ya,
But my bunk mate has malaria.
You remember Jeffrey Hardy.
They’re about to organize a searching party.
Take me home, oh Muddah, Fadduh,
Take me home, I hate Granada,
Don’t leave me out here in the forest, where
I might get eaten by a bear.
Take me home, I promise I will not make noise,
Or mess the house with other boys.
Oh please don’t make me stay,
I’ve been here one whole day.
Dearest Fadduh, darling Muddah,
How’s my precious little Bruddah?
Let me come home if you miss me.
I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me.
Wait a minute, it stopped hailing.
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing.
Playing baseball, gee that’s better.
Muddah, Fadduh, kindly disregard this letter!
Homesickness is normal. In fact, it is developmentally appropriate. This is basically the first thing we tell a child who is missing home. They need to know that what they may be feeling is not abnormal or unusual. And it does not strike exclusively around any particular age, although it is more prevalent among the youngest campers for whom this is the first time away from home. We do know that in the vast majority of cases, any homesickness is over quickly.
When dealing with homesickness, we give one-on-one attention, and the staff involved may be anyone from the counsellors to the camp directors. Our goal is to keep the children busy – at first doing the things most familiar and enjoyable to them. We are also wary of the point when too much personalized attention by a staff becomes used as a crutch instead of help. At that point, the emphasis will turn to getting them to be fully attentive and involved in their activity of the moment. Another tactic is to give the child a role in a game, project, show, or even a harmless prank (like throwing a director in the water), which enhances their self-esteem, and importance in the cabin group. Usually homesickness subsides after a day or two, because the pace of camp life is so busy and distracting from thoughts about home. The good news is… like all things, time heals homesickness too.
Usually the letters sound worse then the reality at camp. Nevertheless, we encourage you to call us if you sense discouraging trends in your child’s letters home. We welcome you sharing signs of unhappiness with us. It helps us get to the bottom of any real problems. Rest assured that attentive caring adults are caring for your child. More information on how we handle homesickness is available at www.manitoucamp.com
PARENTAL INPUT FORM
PARENTS HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO ADVISE US OF ISSUES IN ADVANCE AND TO SUBMIT FORMS TO US BY MAY 10th
If you do not provide proper information as required on the application, camper detail and household form, medical form, or on the parental input form regarding any physical, social, emotional, psychological or other relevant issue regarding your child (including any prior school discipline, suspension, etc) and/or do not provide information on historical visits to psychologists/psychiatrists you are being unfair to your child and placing your child and Camp Manitou at a huge disadvantage. If we have proper information we can be prepared to deal with any concerns with regard to your child and will make every effort to do so. We must be informed of any experience or issue that could affect not only your child but also other children at the camp. Also, please make sure we are kept up to date on all such matters once you complete the personal information page, by contacting us right up until camper arrival. If something has occurred just before camp that could affect your child or others we need to know.
If you did not provide proper disclosure and your child has acted inappropriately or against camp policy, we will have no choice but to act on a zero-tolerance policy. If we are informed, we can do our job. By informing us well in advance of camp we can better advise our staff on how best to deal with your child, encourage your child in the right direction while at the same time allowing our staff to be extra aware of signals or clues relating to the success of your child’s stay at Manitou. We are always better off knowing more than less, for the benefit of the entire Manitou family!
IF YOUR FORMS ARE SUBMITTED ON TIME (by May 10th received), THE CAMP DIRECTOR WILL personally double check each and every form, review them, and make sure they are fully understood. If the forms come late, but by June 1st the information will be inputted and the counselors and appropriate medical staff, unithead or otherwise will be given such information but it will not be reviewed by the CAMP DIRECTOR as we are already busy preparing for camp, often at camp with groups and preparing for pre-camp.