Imagine this: You’ve spent most of the day at the zoo (or Disney, park, soccer game, etc. Fill in the blank for whatever your family enjoys!). It was a lovely day, no one was arguing (remember–we’re using our imaginations!) and you saw the baby giraffe being born. After pizza & ice cream, everyone went upstairs to get ready for bed. On the way upstairs, the youngest child stubs their toe on the corner of their bed. Do you have this image in your head?
When putting said child to bed, do you think they said:
- This was the best day ever, thank you so much!
- This was the worst day ever!
- I am so grateful for you, parental figure!
- I’m never going to the zoo again!
If you were MY children, there would have been a LOT of b (worst day ever), and maybe a little bit of d. How frustrating is that? You spent a wonderful day together (90%), and one little incident (10%, albeit very painful!) has erased all of the good from their memory. Your child can ONLY focus on the negative, even though the positive far outweighs that.
Let’s take that same type of scenario and apply it to camp life. Your child had birthday cake for breakfast (true story!), scored a goal in soccer, received a friendship bracelet from their bestie, held their breath underwater for 45 seconds and got bounced off the blob–this is all before lunch. After lunch, the kids make their way back to the cabin for some much needed rest hour. Counselors are (trying to) sleep, some kids are playing uno in the bathroom, but your kid is alone on their bed and now all they can think about is how bored they are and write home about it using phrases like “come get me”, and “I’m sad all the time”. I think you’re picking up what I’m putting down, right? A great day (90%) can be totally erased by one moment of sadness or downtime (10%), and THAT’S ALL THEY WRITE HOME ABOUT.
What is a parent (or any adult “lucky” enough to receive this piece of literature) to do? Of course we should believe our children, but are they always the most reliable narrators? If you can relate to the first scenario, I encourage you to think about your campers’ letters home in the same way you would the stubbed toe.
Kids are incredibly present-minded. Future thinking comes way later in earlier adulthood. This means that kids’ brains can ONLY focus on what is happening right this very second; reflecting backwards or predicting good times ahead is practically impossible! Their brains are just not wired that way. So, the moral of this story is, please take those “sad” letters with a grain of salt (and possibly some lime and tequila?) and trust that we would reach out if there was ever a serious problem. Easier said than done, right? It’s ok! You can do it. You send your kids to Jacobs for a reason, right?
Leah Hart Tennen joins camp as the Community Care Director this summer. Leah grew up in Jackson, MS, but now lives just outside of Boston with her family–two of whom will be at camp for Session 2! When Leah’s not at camp, she teaches adults how to be social workers at a college in Boston, and for fun, she likes to listen to music and lift weights.