Second Thoughts Can Be a Natural and Healthy Part of the Camp Experience

John Dockendorf17 Jan, 2016
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Hiking Black Balsam for a four state view!
Hiking Black Balsam for a four state view!

We can’t wait for the summer of 2016 because so many of our beloved campers and counselors will be back to share it with us! We are currently traveling, doing presentations in places like Charlotte, Raleigh – Durham, Florida, Knoxville, Chicago, Savannah to name a few and it’s exciting to meet many new campers with whom we will soon be sharing an exciting summer!

We also want to share an observation that we have made over the years, a phenomenon that often happens to students between their first and second summer of Camp Pinnacle:

•    The session ends, and the camper enthusiastically registers for next summer. He or she is excited to come back to see his or her new friends, counselor role models, and improve skills in many activities. The camper might have had a few homesick days at the start of the session, but ends up being “camp sick” when it’s time to return home.
•    Several months later, the same camper comes to his or her parents and says, “I do not want to go back to Camp Pinnacle.” The parents are confused. Did something bad happen at camp? What changed?
•    Often, the parents shrug their shoulders and consider cancelling the camp session. They don’t want to “force” their camper to return.

Number 3 is a loving and understandable reaction, but we want to suggest an alternative.

The Water Zipline
The Water Zipline

Before we do so, let us describe what is actually happening. This is what we call the “Warrior-Worrier” story. In short, we believe that everyone has a warrior that lives on one shoulder and a worrier on the other. The warrior wants to embrace opportunities, try new things, and be adventurous. The worrier, on the other hand, wants to avoid anything uncomfortable, fears any type of public failure, and can be hesitant to try something new.  We suggest to campers to try listening to the warrior, and not the worrier.

The camper who wants to return is listening to the warrior, thinking about new friendships, new outdoor adventures, and caring and cool counselors. But as the year goes on, the worrier starts to whisper: “Remember those days you were homesick?” or “That one hike that was really hard.” Sometimes, the worrier changes the memory of the Camp Pinnacle experience, and suddenly, the confident and excited camper begins to believe that he or she was homesick most of the time, rather than just a little at the start, and that struggle from that hard hike or challenging activity starts to loom larger than the successes and resilience achieved from overcoming obstacles.

At this moment, parents have an interesting choice. The easy one is to simply say, “I do not want to force my child to return.” Another—what we suggest—is more nuanced: “I want to feed my child’s warrior and weaken the worrier.”

This does not mean ignoring your child’s concerns, but it does mean helping redirect thoughts to the fun, friends, and growth at Camp Pinnacle. Ask your child about what he or she loved at camp. If you know who his/her friends and counselors were, ask about them. Look at photos or the 2015 summer memories video.

The Camp Pinnacle Pump Track
The Camp Pinnacle Pump Track

Here are some good questions:
•    What was your favorite memory of camp?
•    Tell me about ________ [a good camp friend] again.
•    What was your favorite activity?
•    Tell me about a favorite counselor.
We also encourage you to call us and ask any questions if you have any lingering concerns. If you do think that your child encountered an issue that is concerning, we want to partner with you to turn this concern into an opportunity for both of us.

We hope this blog helps prepare you for an event that can be initially alarming and is not rare. Hopefully your camper won’t have any second thoughts about the summer of 2016. As always, we strive to be partners in the parenting process. Please reach out to us at 855-378-1928 or info@camppinnacle.com with any questions or concerns.

Dock, Jane, Ben, Fayssoux, Hoyle and Amanda

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