How to talk to your child about their summer camp experience
Asking a child to tell you about their day at summer camp is a lot like asking them to describe their day at school. “It was good,” or “It was fun,” are the typical responses.
But what did they do that made it so fun?
Whether it’s day or overnight camp, kids are being exposed to a wide variety of activities that keep their minds and bodies constantly in motion. They’ll likely be exhausted by the end of the day - or summer - and may not want to talk about everything right away, or they or may give simple, one-word answers in response to questions.
First, give them some time. If they aren’t quite ready to talk, let them rest or take a nap.
Be patient. It will take them a while to process all they have done and experienced.
Parents can help their kids process their experiences by listening to their stories, looking at photos together and asking thoughtful questions. When asking questions, make them specifically about camp. Here are some examples:
- What was the most exciting activity you did today?
- What made you the most nervous?
- Did you learn the other campers’ names?
- What were the other campers like? How about your counselors?
- What activity are you most excited about for tomorrow?
- Was your lunch and water bottle enough for you today?
- What was your favorite act at the talent show?
- Tell me about Color War and what color you were.
- Tell me about the camp song you sang today.
- Tell me about making your [project]. Can you show me how?
- What did you enjoy/love?
- What was challenging?
- When (not if!) you do it again, what will you do differently?
- Did you see any shooting stars or hear coyotes on your campout?
- Did you have a favorite camp song that you learned? And will you teach it to me?
- Did you meet someone from a different country?
- What game or event did your cabin organize?
- What was the name of the horse you rode?
- What was the favorite meal you had?
- What are the names of your bunkmates?
When writing letters to your camper, ask questions about his or her activities, life in the cabins, and friends. Keep letters upbeat and try not to mention that you miss your child or that the house is not the same without them, which could make them homesick.