Child psychologist and school consultant Thompson (It's a Boy!: Understanding Your Son's Development from Birth to Age 18, 2008, etc.) discusses the role summer camps can play in providing a safe environment for a child’s growth toward independence.
The author suggests that the tendency of parents to micromanage their children's lives is counterproductive. “The impulse to protect all of your child's feelings is completely natural,” he writes. “The problem is that the ideal is unachievable, even undesirable.” He emphasizes that “the goal of childhood is to grow up” and “almost all adolescents want full independence from adults.” In his opinion—based on his own childhood experiences at camp and his work as a consultant and former board member of the American Camp Association—summer camps offer a supervised, safe experience for children to deal with separation issues and homesickness, and parents to deal with their own separation anxieties. “[C]amp is a psychological experience” where a child can meet new people, face new challenges and learn the rules of a new community while discovering things about themselves that could never have been learned staying at home with mom and dad. As part of his research, the author visited 19 camps and interviewed campers, counselors and their parents. Thompson describes the wide variety of experiences they offer—sports, nature, pursuit of the arts—and gives examples of camps devoted to special-needs children. He emphasizes the stability, happiness and trust provided by these structured environments.
A useful guide for parents.