Camp Prep #9: Prep the Parents
Better late than never! We realize that we sent many emails on how to prepare your kids for camp, but we neglected to prepare YOU! This year has been tough on everyone. There has been a lot of familial togetherness and not enough of "kids being kids". We were all out of practice with what it means to have our kids gone at camp. Campers are busy. From 7am until 9pm they are immersed in activities. They are having fun. They are tired. They are engaged. They are growing. With that in mind, we now give you our pro tips on how to survive your kids being gone...
Survival Tip #1 - MAIL - Mail delivery happens once a day around lunch. This is when letters that arrived in the mail the day before are delivered to campers. We also collect mail from campers to be sent out the following day. There is weekly letter writing time on Mondays/Thursdays and campers can write during their 1 hour menucha (rest time).
If you are sending emails, you MUST check the box requesting a reply for your camper to receive an email response form. Please realize that kids do not always want to respond. We suggest using this sparingly.
What does this mean? Communication takes time. If you don't receive a reply, it is ok. No news is good news. Your camper is having fun or resting or playing cards with a friend.
Survival Tip #2 - PHOTOS - Photos are posted daily by 1pm from the day before. If you check at 10am on Friday, the most current photos will be from Wednesday. There is no need to call to let us know that you haven't seen photos in two days. We post to CampInTouch and the Campanion app. You can download the app at campanionapp.com. Log in with your CYJ CampInTouch log in, upload a reference photo of your child, and get ready to let the good times roll with photos, albums, and updates from camp all summer long!
Our photographer takes photos throughout the day, but can't be everywhere. We also ask our merkezet (unit heads) to take photos of their aidah (age group). We post about 25 photos daily of each aidah. While our goal is to have a photo of every child every day, sometimes that doesn't work out. There may be days that your camper was not in a photo. This just means they were so busy having fun that they couldn't stop to pose! Please keep in mind that we do not post or take photos on Shabbat. We know it is a long wait, but any photos from Friday or Saturday night will be posted on Sunday.
Survival Tip #3 - GROWTH - Your kids are growing physically, socially, emotionally, and independently. There will be bumps along the road. Our goal is to partner with parents to help our campers learn the life skills to create solutions and cope with challenges. Our counselors live with the campers and have a great handle on what is going on within the groups. You may get a message that your camper is having an issue with a friend or that they are homesick. This is an opportunity to teach them life skills. Help guide them through their problem. Most of the time, by the time you receive the letter, the challenge has already resolved itself.
If there is anything to worry about, we will call you!
Survival Tip #4 - THE OFFICE & HEALTH CENTER - You can reach us at 713-723-8354 or email@example.com.
Our office hours are 9am to 7pm. There will always be someone to answer your call, but the person you want to reach may not be available. We try to spend most of our days interacting with campers and running programs. If you call outside of office hours, please leave a voicemail. Please keep in mind that we check our voicemail and emails periodically during the day, but mostly at night after campers have gone to sleep so please give us a day to reply. We aren't ignoring you!
Survival Tip #5 - HOMECOMING - When camp is over, you may not recognize your camper! They may be an inch taller, be speaking about new friends you have never heard of, stay up later than you expect (camp time is Mountain Daylight Time), or have new skills. This is why you sent them to camp - to have fun, meet new people, discover Jewish traditions, and grow!
The same as it took your camper a few days to adjust to the camp, it will take some time for your camper to adjust to life back at home. Be patient and continue camp traditions like making their bed and toranut.
We hope this helps you navigate your camper's time away. Please enjoy sleeping in and a dinner out! This is a vacation for you. Have fun!