The Benefits of Sending Kids to Camp
In this post…
- My story of accidentally sending the kids to camp, grandparents camp that is
- How sending kids to camp benefits them
- How sending kids to camp benefits the grandparents
- How sending kids to camp benefits the parents
- How sending the kids benefit me (the mom)
- Why sending kids to camp every summer will be our new tradition
- Alternatives if you aren’t able to send your kids to grandparents camp
What happened when we sent our kids to camp (grandparents camp)
We just sent our kids to summer camp at the grandparents and it’s AMAZING!
It happened by accident. I think if I planned it, and had time to overthink, I might have decided they weren’t ready yet. (Well, actually, it was really that I wasn’t ready yet.)
But, here’s how it all unfolded… We planned a short weekend to visit my parents just before Independence Day (4th of July in the US). My mom really loves to have us all at their house for the holiday, as it’s a huge deal in my hometown – think
- parade with homemade floats that are manned by people throwing out candy to the kids,
- town-wide pancake breakfast,
- re-enactment of a bank robbery that happened over 100 years ago,
- a rodeo,
- a barn dance and a
- country music concert.
This is the quintessential 4th of July celebration.
Anyway, when I told my mom we couldn’t stay this year, as the holiday was mid-week and we had to work before and after, she was disappointed.
A few hours later she called me and could barely contain her excitement. What if we brought the kids for the weekend and then they stayed while my husband and I went back home for work?
This happened a few days beforehand, so it was all kind of fast and left me little time to overthink all the reasons why it might not work.
“Let’s do it”, I said.
We headed over for the weekend, and the whole time I was thinking at least one of the kids would get scared when it was time for us to leave, and we’d end up bringing home at least one, if not all three of them.
But that didn’t happen. They were all so excited to stay. It turns out 3, 4 and 7 are great ages for sending kids to camp.
And, I have to admit, although I felt sad for a few minutes when we were driving away, I haven’t been that sad at all having them away for a few days. That’s the truth of it.
What I’ve learned from sending the kids to camp and the time apart
1) Grandparents camp is an invaluable experience for the kids
Sending the kids to camp has been HUGE for them.
The “grandparents camp” has given them a break to the summer routine and the attention of their grandparents and great-grandma (a bonus for them that she lives next door!) It’s also been great for them to all bond without my husband and I there, the dynamic is different and it’s fun for them to make these memories.
It’s been fun for them to keep in touch with us. Sometimes they text from my mom’s phone.
And, they’ve been calling several times a day. I’m not sure if it’s that they miss us, or that they are proud they know our phone number and can dial on their own? Plus, they are enthralled by the concept of a land line, which they had no idea existed. They think it’s amazing that they can each pick up a separate phone yet both be talking on the same conversation.
The experience has brought back childhood memories for my husband. He says that his summers in Florida with his grandparents were some of his best childhood memories.
2) Sending the kids to camp is amazing for the grandparents
A week of alone time with the grandkids, to do (mostly) whatever they all want without the parents interference…..priceless.
I trust my parents completely, so there was no need to set any guidelines or boundaries before we left.
The fridge was full of organic food and the sunscreen was out and ready for application and reapplication. (My grandmother who lives next door maybe not so much but that’s okay. If she wants to feed them junk food, I’m okay with that.)
If you don’t have that same trust factor, or more of a rocky relationship (like with the in-laws maybe), then sending the kids to camp might take a little more pre-discussion and planning. That’s okay, send the kids to camp anyway, it will be worth it.
Here are a few ideas for setting up a grandparents camp when the relationship with them is more challenged:
- If you’re hesitating, be honest with yourself. If your concern more about you and your feelings or the kid’s safety and well-being?
- Think about what rules you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not. Narrow down your requests to those that are critical (e.g. safety related) and let the rest go. For example, will it really matter in the grand scheme if the kids stay up later than their bedtime or eat more sugar than you allow?
- Set up a communication plan with the grandparents. Agree in advance how often you’ll touch base and how (e.g. a phone call at the end of the day before bed and a few texts during the day). Make sure you’re all comfortable with keeping the lines of communication open.
- Agree in advance how you’ll handle it if a kid wants to come home.
- Consider sending one kid at a time, at least to start. If the grandparents aren’t used to the kids, try sending one at a time to start. This won’t benefit you with the completely empty house, but it will be more manageable.
3) My husband and I have been able to reconnect by sending the kids to camp
So now that we have the in-law topic out of the way, let’s go back to the benefits of sending the kids to camp.
Wow, my husband and I didn’t realize how much our days revolve around managing the kids, their schedules, and their basic needs.
It’s been great to go out to dinner, to a movie, and even to the grocery store without negotiating who will stay home, if we should all go, if it should be before or after dinner.
Having a little freedom and the time to reconnect has been great! We realize we still love each other, and it has been bringing up memories of all the fun we had together before kids.
4) I’ve had some space to think (and get a lot of stuff done!)
Although I LOVE our noisy, chaotic life and the challenge of packing in as much into my day as possible, I have to admit that a few days of quiet and tranquility has been HUGE.
I have been able to think and re-set myself and my priorities. This time has given me the gift of perspective, and reminded me that my #1 priority is spending quality time with my family.
It’s so easy to lose site of those priorities when we’re caught up in the day-to-day (at least it is for me). I’m excited for the kids to return, and to implement my plan of at least 30 minutes one-on-one time per kid per day, doing what THEY want to do (even if it’s playing Candyland, which is like slow torture IMO).
And, I’ve been using this time as a MOTIVATOR to crush through my to-do list. WOW, it’s amazing how much you can get done without a 3 year old wanting to sit on your lap!
I’ve really recognized the value of this time and that I want to take full advantage of it, to get through a lot of the undone stuff that’s been lingering on my list.
This is free-ing me up to be more present and my mind more calm when they return.
5) We’ll make sending the kids to camp our new tradition (assuming my parents are game)
Sending the kids to grandparents camp has been invaluable for the kids, for my parents, and for my husband and I. We’ll definitely make it an annual tradition, assuming my parents are game!
6) Alternatives for sending the kids to camp
And what if sending the kids is simply not an option for you, what are some alternatives that could lead to these same benefits?
- Send the kids to another camp, like sleep-away camp with friends
- Send the kids to their aunts/uncles for a weekend (or longer if you can convince them)
- Get an overnight babysitter so you and your hubby can both spend a night away, together
7) What is your experience with sending kids to camp (or attending one yourself)?
I’d love to hear about your experiences with sending kids to camp.
- What kind of camp have you sent them to – grandparent’s camp? Another sleep-away type camp?
- If you haven’t sent kids to camp, why not?
- How did it go, and did you notice any other benefits that I didn’t list above?
- Did you feel guilty or sad? Or elated?
Drop me a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences and what you learned!