Keep Good Camp Habits Alive

Posted: September 11, 2012

Many campers have returned home for the remainder of summer, and you may have noticed something about their behavior — their manners!

The entire camp experience is made of teachable moments, and perhaps one of the biggest is how to live with a group of people. Campers learn to pick up after themselves, respect each other’s property, and say “Please” and “Thank You.”

Keep your camper’s good habits alive long after the summer is over:

  • Remember to Remind — When campers come home, they often keep the spirit of camp alive for a week or two, and then things trail off. Use positive reinforcement to remind campers that you appreciate the positive attitude and willingness to help that they developed at camp.
  • Become Camp-Like — Families can set the example by demonstrating a willingness to change something at home in order to sustain some of the changes campers have made. Bob Ditter, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist, suggests: "Parents have to make a decision. Are they willing to change something in their practice at home in order to sustain some of the changes their kids have made, such as having a job wheel that you put up on the wall outlining chores?"
  • Everyone Gets a Say — At camp, children help determine how their day is spent. Their advice is actively sought, and they feel like equal players. Emulating this environment at home allows them to continue to stand up for themselves and feel like a contributing member of the household.
  • Avoid the Negative Compliment — Don't inadvertently sabotage efforts by pointing out differences in behavior. Instead of saying, "you never did this before," praise the behaviors in a genuine way. For example, "I noticed how patient you were with your little brother."

Try This!
Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children will be celebrated nationwide on Monday, September 24. Take the opportunity to sit down with the whole family and reinforce your child’s good camp habits during the meal:

  • Let your child help choose what’s for dinner (something healthy, maybe even a favorite meal from camp!)
  • Ask your child to help set the table and clear the dishes — and ask them how the camp handled these tasks
  • Use the meal time interaction to talk about favorite camps stories, songs, friends, and even plans for next summer
  • Thank your child for helping with the dinner, and compliment his or her responsible habits

Photo courtesy of Camp Killoqua near Everett, Washington