How can you, a parent, maintain the lessons learned at camp so your camper holds on to them? How can you build upon their skills so your camper continues to care for themselves, the family, and their community? Upon their return from camp, you likely noticed a spike in your child’s commitment to self-care or helping out around-the-house. Now you may be seeing that drive begin to fade. So, how can you guide your camper in maintaining these new-found qualities?
When you see your camper do something you like, praise them for it. Tying your appreciation to a specific action encourages children to continue that behavior. For example, you could say, “Thank you so much for making your bed this morning, that makes me proud.” Or, “Thank you so much for helping me put the dishes away after dinner, it’s so nice to have someone help me do that.” The more specific you can be, the better!
Communicate with them to hear more about how things are going in their lives. Ask open-ended questions and avoid questions that only need a yes-or-no response. Avoid questions like, “Did you have fun at school today?” Instead, ask them something like, “Which class did you enjoy the most today?” And when they tell you, ask more follow up questions about why they enjoyed it. Talking will let you know how they are interacting with others at school and if they are utilizing the skills they learned at camp. If needed, you can encourage them to reflect on their camp experience. Drawing upon their camp experiences can transfer camp skills to life at home.
If you need help with a task you believe your camper learned the skills to complete at camp, ask them for help with that task. You could say, “I heard you may have learned how to cook noodles at camp, that’s cool, could you help me cook the noodles for dinner tonight?” Being a part of the family team can help campers feel more invested in their time at home.
Avoid solving the problem for them or giving them an easy solution. Remind them of skills they may have learned at camp, and help them come up with possible solutions themselves by asking leading questions. If your camper comes to you regarding a conflict with a friend, after listening to them, instead of saying, “You need to apologize to your friend.” You could say, “How do you think your words made them feel?” And, “How might that make you feel if someone said that to you? What do you think would be the best thing for you to do to fix the situation?”
Planning regular family outings is a great way for your camper to continue building and utilizing the skills they learned at camp. They will be eager to show you new things or take you on new adventures and show you their skills and interests. You will have more time to strengthen your familial bonds and hear about what’s going on in your children’s lives. Getting out of the house together as a family, whether in nature or to local events, is an excellent way for your camper to hold on to their camp experience and share it with you.