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Growth, Separations and Transitions: A Four-Part Series – Part II: Camp

For most private school families the end of the year is a few weeks away. Whether it is the transition to a new grade, a new school, summer camp or college, change’s tension hangs in the air of most families. This post is part of a four part series about how to think about welcoming the new and keeping bridges to the old. In Part II of this series, we look at what happens when kids transition to summer camp.

Summer Camp

Whether or not your child enrolls in a day camp or a sleep away camp, this is a time when most kids demonstrate increased independence. It is an opportunity to experiment with what the longer term separation into adulthood will be like. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to express sadness about your child’s departure, even if it is just a long day on the bus. While most parents make very good use of the breathing space during the summer, your child wants to know that the separation is his or her own idea. He or she also wants to believe that life without your child will be miserable. While they may rejoice in leaving you, no child wants to know that his or her parent can’t wait for the separation.

One family has a tradition of keeping a photo album of what the parents do while the kids are away – eating dinner alone, walking the dog, sitting around a reading. Another working mom whose kids are at day camp manages to pick them up at the bus, even though they can walk home alone, letting her kids know in very concrete terms how much she missed them.

About the Contributor: Susan Bodnar, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, is regular contributor to the NYC Firm Schools Blog in the area of parenting and child & adolescent mental health with a cultural and environmental perspective.

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