Warm Weather, Cold Little Girl Feet

Editor’s Note: Part one of this topic is geared toward younger or newer campers who may be starting to feel anxious about coming back to camp or going to camp for the first time. Part two will be geared toward teenagers and what happens when they start feeling like they might be done with camp and how to work with them to see the continuing value of camp.

Warm Weather, Cold Feet

Ah, spring is here…at last (just ignore all that snow!)

But seriously, little flower heads are pushing through the ground, early trees are beginning to leaf out, the air feels fresh and crisp and finally we are getting some nice time back in the great outdoors — soccer games, hikes, bike riding, walks. It feels so good.

And all those good outdoorsy feelings remind us of another thing — that camp is just around the corner!

Here Before We Know It

For us that means a flurry of office activity — planning, admin and head counselor sessions, paperwork/forms coming in (are you taking the Forms Challenge in hopes of winning $500 off your camper’s tuition?), and lots of emails to camp families about your planning for camp this summer.

And even though joyful anticipation for camp burbles up like a spring during this time another thing can sometimes burble up for campers, only it’s more like a weed. It’s cold feet about camp!

Warm Weather, Cold Feet

Last summer or fall your camper was SO excited to go back to camp but round about now your camper starts to hear about a friend who’s going to a different camp or off on an exotic trip to some far-flung locale or just that other friends will stay at home poolside basking in the local social scene.

With all this going on your camper might begin to wonder, “Will I miss out on what my friends are doing? On local summer happenings? Maybe I’d rather go out West with my bestie’s family? Maybe I don’t want to go away to camp for three weeks after all?!”

Oh, this is soooooo normal. Expected even. And even if you consider cancelling camp because you think it’s what she wants now, it might instead be a great moment to take a deep breath…and pause.

Yes, you’re baffled. You’re thinking, “She used to be thrilled about camp and now she doesn’t even want to go? Huh? WHAT HAPPENED?”

So, even if her hesitation seems mysterious, it’s important to validate her feelings of uncertainty and any fears of missing out she might be experiencing. Chat with her. Hear her out. Get some clues about what’s really going on. Like most kids, the feelings of regret are likely a passing mood based on what’s currently going on in her life.

After that, you can gently steer her back to her own interests at camp, what she’s enjoyed about camp, what makes her camp experience unique, her camp memories, and even point out what her friends may wish that they could do if camp was an option for them!

Stay On Course

So here are a few tips for weathering that bout of cold feet that often happens this time of year and getting her excited about camp again.

  1. A picture’s worth a thousand words. Pull out pictures from last summer (or log into CampMinder and browse through all of last summer’s pics we posted). If she’s new to camp, but is getting cold feet, visit the website and Facebook/Instagram again for lots of fun photos.
  2. Sing, sing out loud! Pull out the Songbook and have your camper sing her favorite songs to you. If you’re an alum, sing them together!
  3. Connect with camp friends! Give a call, tag them on social media, send an e-mail, or go crazy and send a surprise “mail call” letter the old fashioned way.
  4. Local-ish camp friends can plan a mini reunion. Do a dinner date at a common location halfway between your families, or plan a slumber party or picnic/casual party for one or more camp friends/families.
  5. Set some goals. Talk about what activities she plans to take this summer and what she wants to do this summer at camp that is the same/different from last summer.
  6. Follow us! Check out camp’s Facebook and Instagram pages to see the counselors we’ve hired, and read camp’s blog about new and upcoming things!
  7.  Have us give her a call. We’d love to talk to your camper about this upcoming summer and remind her what a valuable part of the ‘Ghany camp community she is!

I hope this helps you weather some of the blustery winds of spring that can leave a chill on cold camper feet! But don’t fear, the weather changes just as easily back to smooth sailing as she’s reminded of what makes camp so special.

We can’t wait to see all of you crossing the Barge to camp this summer!

— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls