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Camp to Home Communication

Camp rules dictate how you stay in touch with your camper over the summer

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Parents today are accustomed to the instant access cell phones, texting and email gives them to their kids. But camp communication policies that disallow or restrict camper phone and/or email access can cut that immediate connection — potentially raising anxiety levels in parents used to reaching their kids 24/7.

Camps aren’t snipping the proverbial phone cord to be cruel. On the contrary, stringent communication guidelines, say camp experts, are set because constant parental monitoring of whereabouts and well being has been known to work against a child’s successful summer camp experience.

Camp phone and email rules

Over the past decade, day and overnight camps have considered how to balance the ease of new technology within traditional camp parameters — one in which letters home remains the preferred camper/parent communication route.

Although camp directors generally welcome parent inquiries, they know that campers who are able to text mom whenever they have a problem will not build the life skills — independence and conflict-resolution among them — camp helps to develop. “When a parent says, ‘Call me if you need anything’ or ‘I’ll come get you if you don’t like camp,’ it signals that the child isn’t capable of working things out on his own,” says Michael Chauveau, executive director of the American Camp Association (ACA) Keystone Field Office.“Learning to be self-reliant in a safe camp environment prepares children to cope when they eventually leave home.”

Lines of communication

Some camps have “no electronics” policies; others allow two-way, parent-camper email. Some camps funnel all parent communications through the director; others instruct parents to contact counselors or group leaders. Knowing, understanding and abiding by your camp’s policies ensures a better experience for everyone.

“We know that if kids have phones and text home about a problem, parents may get worried about something” camp staff can resolve, says Tom O’Neill, director of Golden Slipper Camp, a 60-plus-year-old overnight camp in Stroudsburg, PA. “That’s why we tell parents to call us first.”

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