Editor’s Note: From Camp Director to Camp Parent is my new blog series chronicling my (and my son’s) experience(s) as a first-time camp parent and a first-time camper. I envisioned this series as a way to empathize with first-time camp parents now that I find myself on the other side of camp registration and awaiting a coming camp experience. I hope you’ll follow along with me and my son as we take this first step into the (not entirely unknown) camp world. My first post in this series detailed how we came to decide for him to attend a short one-week sleepaway camp (that is similar in duration and in age-group to Camp Alleghany’s Mini Camp for Girls): Booking My Son’s First Sleepaway Camp Session. Throughout the spring and into the summer I’ll update you with all those first-time camp parent issues and concerns that I experience along with how my son, Mason, is taking it all. Please subscribe to the blog and follow along. Here is the second post:
Camp Parent Night
Last week, the summer camp my son Mason is attending this year held a Parent Night in the Washington, DC-area and of course I wanted to be there! So, I strategically planned the ice cream social I held for current and would-be Bethesda ‘Ghany Girls to be held just one day prior to that parent night, and stayed with a best camp buddy of mine who lives up there so I could attend. And it was so worth it!
I feel confident in sending Mason off to camp, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to explore the camp further, and also, as a camp director myself, the concept of a Parent Night intrigued me — so I wanted to check it out from that perspective as well! Also, I just love the directors of his camp, so a chance to see them is always welcomed.
The event was held in a hotel, and several parents were there to get the scoop along with me.
The director started off by talking about their mission statement — which essentially encompasses engaging the whole family for the child’s sleepaway camp experience and focuses on relationship building, personal development, and the importance of the natural world. The directors explained with passion that this is why they do what they do. I loved it!
I find it very meaningful when camps are driven by a mission because that’s also how we view — and run — the ‘Ghany camp experience (see our mission statement). For me it grounds camp in something larger than just three weeks away from home and it also allows for more individualized development over the years as the camper comes back summer after summer.
In addition to the director, a few different administrative staff members spoke about what they love about camp, and then their camp nurse spoke about her role in camp and her own children’s experience there.
The Important Things
After that, it was time for the questions. Because I feel so good about sending Mason, and checked out the camp thoroughly, I didn’t have a ton of questions. But my husband Matt had asked Mason what questions he had, so I asked them for him:
- What do they eat for breakfast?
- How many people sleep in my cabin?
- Who is my counselor?
- Can 6-year olds play baseball?
I got good answers that I’m sure other parents appreciated hearing about and all of our inquiries were treated with respect and very positive interaction.
The event was also streamed on Facebook Live (what a great idea!) so Matt and Mason were watching it for a bit. But by the time I asked Mason’s questions Matt had turned it off to get Mason ready for bed. But that’s okay because I was able to get his questions answered and he was excited when I got home and told him.
Overall I loved the event and would love to start thinking about planning our own parent nights. What a great way to have some face time with parents and start connecting personally with the families. It’s also a good reminder of what everyone needs to do to prepare. We send out several reminder emails, but you can’t beat a personal conversation!
So what do I need to do now?
Well, we have Mason’s physical coming up, so his health form will be completed. I need to start labeling all his clothing! I might ask my mom to help me — haha.
And finally, a big takeaway from the parent night was certain packing items. For one, they don’t need a trunk because they live in cabins and have shelves, although it’s fine if campers bring trunks. It was also good to hear about specific bedding requirements. And then the fact that they recommend two pairs of sneakers….Matt and I better get shopping!
Other than that, Mason should be pretty well covered with camp clothes, considering he’s spent every summer of his life at camp already!
Stay tuned for my next installment, which will likely be adventures in labeling and packing. And all this while I’m preparing the whole family to be down at our camp — see, you can do it all!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls