Hey there, parent of a child during the craziest time of our lives:
I see you. I see you workin’ hard to get your kids on zoom school. I see you being creative with all the “celebrations” that we worry our kids are missing. I know you are trying to be good, to be the best parent. And you know what, YOU ARE. You are the best thing that your kids could possibly ask for. Every craft, every day trip, every special treat is keeping you afloat and saving your family. I’m here to throw you the lifesaver and reward you for all your hard work. I’m here to tell you about day camp for this summer.
Before you let all those anxious thoughts fly around, sit for a minute and imagine the most perfect summer day. Now imagine your child, laughing with friends their age on this perfect summer day. Throw in some bubbles and the caring faces of camp counselors who are leading silly games and are so safe and gentle on this perfect summer day. You see splashing in pools and running on grassy fields, hours of exploration and days of play. Are you feeling a little better now? Traditional day camp is a wonderful image; it’s a classic scene that many of you have lived yourself. I’m here to tell you that this scene of wonder and joy and giggles and care is still very much alive and here to save you this summer. Traditional camps, like Tumbleweed Day Camp, are the antidote to the illness that is growing in our community. Combined with COVID-19, fear, isolation despair and anxiety are wreaking havoc all over our lives, and sadly, with our children, too. But camp can cure this, almost instantaneously.
How does going to day camp fundamentally combat anxiety, isolation, depression and sadness? So glad you asked. There are 7 things that tradition camps like Tumbleweed Day Camp offer as fundamental elements of their experience. You can think of these 7 things as the essence of camp and as a critical need for children now more than ever. There is one prerequisite to going to camp this summer however. You and your family have to be comfortable with some amount of risk. If you are not ready to leave the house, then this is not the summer for you. I’m going to talk in a bit about how camps are creating incredibly safe (but not sterile) spaces for kids this summer, but I would warn anyone against being convinced to attend camp. The safest thing you can do is stay home.
Nature and being outdoors is medicine for the soul. Not only is vitamin D and fresh air good for your health, observing nature can help grow your brain. Even if you are alone in nature, you are surrounded by thousands of living things. Natural light helps with sleep at night and feeling the elements helps to break up the monotony of sitting inside. Looking for a camp that is completely or mostly outdoors is a must in combating loneliness and sadness, as well as mitigating the spread of COVID.
Physical activity has often been touted as one of the most important ways to ward off anxiety and depression. It helps you sleep better, be healthier, and breathe deeper. Your child probably has not been as active as they might have been during a traditional school year – no PE or sports or recess. Camp provides opportunities for all sorts of physical activity.
Maybe the most important of any of these fundamentals is that camp, if nothing else, is all about being social. There’s problem solving, friendship making, risk taking, building mastery, making choices and so much more. What a camper does in an hour at camp builds up an incredible amount of social skills that are all critically needed in youth development. By being in-person and having shared experiences, campers can begin to regain the social skills needed to be happy people.
Being around other caring adults
As a parent, this was maybe the most striking element for me. Having my child interact with a different caring authority figured changed the way that she interacted with me. You have heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” – well, that’s because we are not meant to raise children alone! Our kids need different types of leaders and communicators; they need to see younger adults being in positions of care. They need to view you as their parent again and not as their parent + teacher + babysitter + friend + disciplinarian + event coordinator +++.
You know how you feel after a day of zoom calls and staring at your phone? Imagine how our kids feel now that they have been doing that for almost A WHOLE YEAR! Get them out of the house, off the screen, and into real life. And trust me, it is much easier for a super cool young camp counselor to tell them that they can’t be on their phone than it is for the parent to say it for the 100000000 time. When no one is using a device, it’s cool to be offline.
Experiencing new and unique events
The Great Good Science Center did a study on what key things humans need to be happier. One of them was the idea that experiencing new and unique things makes us happy. Great summer camps like Tumbleweed know this – that’s why we have theme weeks and special events and wacky costume days. These unexpected events instill optimism and hopefulness that directly attacks anxiety and depression.
Opportunities to try new things
Trying new things and finding new passions in an important fundamental to most traditional day camps. Learning a new skill, with all the ups and downs of making mistakes and succeeding, creates a path towards mastery. Mastery, along with autonomy and connection, are proven to be cornerstone behaviors in happy people.
we're doing this right
The American Camp Association published their findings on what interventions mitigated the most spread of COVID-19 at summer camps during 2020. Their findings showed a major take-away: When camps implemented several important interventions like mask wearing, physical distancing, outdoor space, and small groups, only 1% of all people (staff, campers, volunteers) contracted COVID-19.
Long story short – treat yourself, treat your family, and send your child to day camp this summer. Register for Tumbleweed today and get all these benefits and more for your family.
 https://acacamps.app.box.com/s/qoq88mvza038vqjonwbf39f76d8zqtcw  https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_nature_makes_you_kinder_happier_more_creative  https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/how-to-fight-depression#diet https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_top_10_insights_from_the_science_of_a_meaningful_life_in_2020