Camp is bubble-wrap free

By Mary-Kay Amos

Do you have bubble wrapped kids? The best way to answer this question is to define what that means. Lenore Skenazy who is a parenting expert, columnist, and author of “Free Range Kids” says that it is “overprotective parenting motivated by fears of societal dangers”. Although there is no harm meant in this style of parenting, it is motivated by fear and therefore can do more harm than good.    

Are you overprotecting your children in a way that is denying them the freedom they need to become strong and independent individuals? It is a hard question for parents as it implies that they may have been, or may still be overprotecting their children in some way. Most parents are using a part of this style in their parenting since it has slowly become the normal and accepted method of parenting in our culture. It is hard to go against the methods of friends, neighbours and family members – but what if you did let go just a little?  Ask yourself what would happen if you made a radical decision to free your child or children from the confines of the bubble wrap that has so carefully been put in place to keep them safe? 

Summer can be a great time to let your children explore, create, enjoy the sunshine, get their hands in the mud, sand, and water and just be kids. It is a great time to test the waters of life without bubble wrap. Summer means camp and camp is everything that a parent could ask for to let your kids experience freedom while still being supervised in a wonderful and nurturing environment.    

What makes camp so different from other environments in this regard?  Here are the top five things that make camp the perfect un-bubble wrapped place to send your child this summer:

Youth Leadership – The staff at camp programs are young enough to connect with children in a different way than a parent or teacher. That connection causes children to express themselves differently in this environment and campers feel more independent while still within a supervised environment.

A little bit of crazy goes a long way – Being in an atmosphere where anything goes, camp is a bit crazy and wild on a daily basis. There is such freedom in the silly moments that only the camp atmosphere can inspire.

Free time – Most camp programs provide some unstructured time to just be at camp and freedom in the daily schedule. This time is an integral part of childhood development. It feeds their need to be creative, feel bored and come up with games and ideas of what to do on their own, have a moment to reflect and just enjoy hanging out. Unstructured moments can be few and far between during the school year, so be sure to add some of these moments in the summer.

The only goal is fun – Having a goal is important, however there are some things that you can do just for fun. Camp is one of those things. There are no certificates, diplomas, or grades handed out at most camps. It is all about fun.

Happy, dirty, tired, hungry – You may need to stock up on laundry detergent, and good food for your camper this summer but be assured…they will come home happy and pooped.

Free yourself and your child this summer and let them explore a new side of themselves at a camp program. They will thrive, create, have a blast, and try new things. All of this will help to develop new and exciting parts of the wonderful individual people they are becoming as each day passes.

You will also get to enjoy getting to see new parts of them blossom in this environment. They will have so much to tell you at the end of each day about all that they have done and the new friends and camp counsellors they are meeting. It’s a way to bond with your child in a healthy way that is motivated by excitement rather than fear.

Article provided by Mary-Kay Amos, owner of Kids Inc, a summer day camp serving Mississauga, Brampton, Halton Hills, and surrounding areas. Kids Inc Camp is celebrating 16 years of happy campers this year. For information visit www.kidsinc.ca