Resource Library

ANN ARBOR, MI 2010 — A new report urges parents and children's doctors to change their thinking about homesickness among children, to see it as a nearly universal but highly preventable and treatable phenomenon — rather than an unavoidable part of childhood.

The report, published in the journal Pediatrics, gives parents and physicians specific guidance to help anticipate and lessen the distress that homesickness can cause among kids and teens at summer camps, hospitals, boarding schools and colleges.

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Not surprisingly, parents may be reluctant to discuss difficult economic times with their children.  Viewed as the province of adult anxiety, the burdens imposed by tumbling stock prices, falling home values, and rising unemployment are a powerful force, with 8 out of every 10 Americans blaming the U.S. economic crisis for much of the stress in their lives, according to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association.

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Life Lessons Learned at Camp
Published Date: 2009-10-12

As summer gets closer, parents are arranging post-school plans for their children. Often, those schedules will include camp for a week, a month, or more. Some kids will attend day programs, others will enjoy overnight experiences. Their activities may be specialized, or include a little bit of most anything. Regardless of the exact ingredients, these children will learn the true meaning of what summer camp is all about.

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All parents have hopes and desires for their children. I'll bet high on your list of wishes is that your children grow up to be well-adjusted adults who have healthy, nurturing relationships of their own. The example you set for them at home is vital, but so is the experience and advice they can get from other caring adults.

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For almost 150 years the camp community has had a secret. Not a well-kept secret, mind you, because you can see it in your neighborhoods, in your office buildings, on your favorite TV shows — you can see it at sporting events and hear it on your radios. But just in case it's still a secret to you, it's time for the camp community to shout it from the rooftops. When your kids come home energized from their summer camp experiences with that confident, exuberant, knowing smile you've never quite seen before broad across their faces, it's because camp has given them more than happy memories.

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As wonderful as the cherished traditions and programmatic aspects of a camp may be, what we teach campers may not be the most important part of their summer experience. The most crucial and unexpected moments of a summer may be when children are left alone to engage in free, undirected play. For many campers, the experience of playing outside “alone” or with a group of friends may be a truly new and joyful one. The loss of time for free, undirected play in everyday life is one of the saddest facts of modern childhood.
 

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A Field Guide to Preserving Childhood
Published Date: 2009-03-01

It is commonly said that it takes an entire village to raise strong, healthy children. Yes, it takes a village of people to raise a child, but it also takes the village itself.

A hundred years ago, homes were in villages or cabins in the woods. People were surrounded by wide-open spaces with green as far as the eye could see. That is not the case now, the "village" has changed.

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Camp can be a beneficial, fun, life-changing experience for every child, but if you have two or more children in your household the biggest decision looking ahead to this summer may be "Do I send one or all of them to camp?"

Even if your children get along famously and enjoy many of the same activities, before you decide to send anyone to a residential camp for a summer adventure they'll never forget, you should ask yourself the following questions about each of your children individually:

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A summer at camp is much more than a vacation for children. At camp, kids enjoy the outdoors and develop a greater appreciation for the environment. Campers experience the companionship of other children and acquire skills that improve self-confidence, increase self- reliance, enhance the ability to cooperate with others, and, hopefully, a greater awareness of life that is larger than one’s self.

Hopefully, the acquisition and refinement of such skills will contribute in positive and significant ways to the child’s adjustment and will carry over into his/her adult years.

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Maybe it starts with Thanksgiving — the turkey, the stuffing, mashed potatoes swimming in gravy, Aunt Gertie's Jell-O® Surprise, and pumpkin pie buried in whipped cream. Then the holiday steam train is rolling, and every time you turn around there are get-togethers complete with a smorgasbord of calorie-laden, but oh-so-tasty, treats. And if it ended with ringing in the New Year, and everyone actually stuck to their resolutions to drop a few pounds and get some exercise on a regular basis, everything would be fine.

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