Helicopter parents: Back off before you ruin summer camp

Helicopter parents: Back off before you ruin summer camp

Parenting

Helicopter parents: Back off before you ruin summer camp

In today’s episode of “You’ve got to be KIDDING me” comes this story from NPR:

“Are Helicopter Parents Ruining Summer Camp?” 

Cell phones smuggled into the bodies of stuffed animals like contraband, camp counselors taking up to 100 phone calls a day, moms wanting daily reports on how their child is doing.

It never occurred to me that this could be an actual thing.

Camp wasn’t always this way

I went away for two weeks to Girl Scouts’ camp in the summer when I was in my early tweens, to the mountains for skiing with my church and to Washington D.C. as a high school student for a week-long session about government and politics.

All with out the tether of my parents. And I survived. In fact, those are some of my fondest memories of my youth.

I made new friends, learned new skills, overcame obstacles and was taught age-appropriate independence in a safe and nurturing environment.

But today’s campers are apparently not allowed to have that experience, thanks to their overbearing parents. To quote from the NPR article:

“Barry Garst studies youth development at Clemson University, with a focus on out-of-school learning. He said that whether you call them “helicopter,” “snowmobile” or “lawnmower” parents, overinvolved parenting is on the verge of ruining camp.

“We started to hear from camp directors a number of years ago that parents were the most problematic areas of a camp experience,” says Garst. Not weather, not water safety, not grizzly bears. “

Camp is a unique experience

My kids are 6 and 4 — still a bit young for overnight summer camp. But for the past two years we’ve taken them on vacation to the Tyler Place Family Resort in Vermont.

Why? Because it reminds their dad and I of a bygone era where you can actually enjoy old-fashioned family fun. There are no TVs in the rooms, no video games on the property.

You swim in the lake, you do crafts, you horseback ride. Your kids spend a good chunk of their day with camp counselors who teach them silly songs, how to garden, how to play lawn games like Red Rover, how to fish and the like.

Parents: What are you hoping to accomplish?

To the helicopter parents I ask: What, exactly, are you hoping to accomplish by sneaking a cell phone into a care package or the back of a stuffed animal? Why do you need to check in on your kids every second of the day?

Isn’t it our job — as parents — to teach our children independence, self-reliance and life skills? Or are you expecting them to live with you forever?

CUT THE CORD.

I went away to summer camp, got an occasional snail mail letter from my parents and survived.

Your kids will too.

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