Tag Archives: camp

Communication Camp

Last week, my two oldest children traveled to Tennessee with my sister to attend their first Communication Camp. My sister and niece taught the camp, and actually, it was their first one too. And what a learning experience it was!

Following a curriculum my sister created, campers learned through instruction, workbook exercises, and group games and assignments. Both of my children came back saying they had so much fun and learned a lot. After reading through the teacher’s manual, I learned a lot, too.

Topics covered at the camp included the good manners in communication that you’d expect, as well as many more you might not. Students ages 9 and up learned how to introduce themselves and others, even when they’ve forgotten someone’s name; how to give their full attention when another is speaking; how to reach out to people who would normally be left out; how to make small talk; how to speak in front of a group; and much, much more.

How did the camp affect my children? They came away from the experience having gained some very important life skills, ones I’ve let slip by in the busyness of schoolwork and life in general. We’ve already begun implementing some of them in the way the kids communicate with each other. My daughter used to come running to tell me the latest unkind comment her brother said; now, she goes to him first and tells him how it made her feel, and he is usually receptive and offers an apology, even without my prompting him.

One of my favorite parts of the curriculum is how the lessons in communication tied in with lessons about the Great Communicator, Jesus. A short Bible study is related to each topic covered; by following Jesus’ example, we too can learn to be attentive, understanding, aware, welcoming, and transparent — lessons not only for children, but for adults as well.

Next year, maybe we’ll all attend the camp!

Photo by Calgrin

The Boy, The Book, and The Birds

2620931433_07ac966408What a day we had yesterday. My three younger children and I went on what we thought was a quick errand, but what turned out to be quite an adventure — such a long adventure, in fact, that it will take two posts to tell the story, but here it goes…

My oldest, John, was headed off to his first week-long scout camp, and we were late pulling everything together. After a rather hectic morning making sure he had everything he needed, he hopped in the truck with my husband and headed to the campground in the mountains — which was actually only about ten minutes from our house.

As soon as they had left, however, I found his scout book, which he had told me the day before he had to have at camp. I grabbed the book and rushed out of the house, but they were already gone. Perhaps I could catch them? I called to my other three children to run to the car, and away we went.

The problem was, I didn’t know the shortcut to the campground — the way my husband had probably gone. He didn’t have a cell phone with him, so I couldn’t call; besides, we had rushed out in such a hurry, I didn’t take along a cell phone either. I had seen signs for the camp from the highway, though, so I was sure that even if we didn’t see them on the road, we’d only be minutes behind…

…Or many minutes. We went up and down the same stretch of highway looking for that sign about three times. Just when I was about to give up, it occurred to me that I might not have gone far enough, and we drove a little further. Sure enough, there was the sign. What a relief, since a quick glance at the gauges revealed we were running low on gasoline. There weren’t any gas stations nearby, but I was sure we’d have enough to get to the camp and then home again. After all, the camp wasn’t that far away…

…Or was it? We continued down a winding mountain road, eventually spotting another sign for the campground. We turned to the right and kept going and going another couple of miles. Had we missed a turn? My older daughter, Cassie, was sure we had, and our gas gauges kept getting lower and lower. Finally, we spotted the campground up ahead.

The ten-minute trip to camp took us about thirty-five minutes, but we made it just in time, reaching the campers and delivering the book right before they went off to take a swim test. My husband was going to watch the test, so we waved good-bye and headed home. I was thinking I should ask him about the shortcut, but they were already walking away. Anyway, I was sure all I had to do was continue the way we were going before that second turn. After all, the other way led back to the highway. We didn’t have much gasoline left, but we didn’t have far to go…

Or did we?

Photo by Philms

Difficult Situations

159472497_b6835aa840When my children returned from camp this year, they told me about the fun things they did and the good food they ate. They also told me about other children there who weren’t easy to get along with — they didn’t play the games fairly, they teased them, and sometimes they took their things.

These issues, which were minor to their cousins who also attended camp, were major concerns for my children. We began talking about how they responded and what they might do differently if it happened again, which it would, either at camp or somewhere else.

One of the reasons we homeschool is to protect our children from situations that they aren’t yet mature enough to handle. Growing up in the public school system myself, I remember many times people said or did things that were clearly wrong, and I just didn’t know how to respond. There were times things happened and I never told my parents, so they weren’t aware of what was going on. I didn’t want it to be that way for my kids.

But here we are at a crossroads — the fine line between over-protection and learning a life skill. At what age should a child be made to deal with a difficult situation, especially one involving their peers? Part of me is satisfied that they haven’t had to think about it much until now, and part of me feels they could have handled things better at camp had they only known how.

Part of me, too, tells me that every child is different; there’s no magic age for taking a stand, confronting a problem, or struggling through peer pressure. What one child is able to handle might be too difficult for another. But as mom and teacher, I can work to keep the lines of communication with my children open, and we can figure it out together.

Photo by joshuaone6to9

Letting Go

togetherThis past spring brought several new experiences for me, one of which was letting my children go to visit relatives for more than just a day.

I had my first taste of their growing independence last year when the three oldest went to camp last summer. I was confident about them going, as my brother and sister-in-law ran the camp, my niece was one of the counselors, and they had three cousins going as well. I have to admit, though, I was sad when I saw them off on the bus and glad when they returned home again. All three of them reported having a great time.

This past May, we did a lot of traveling, and the kids had the opportunity to stay with different family members, some for as long as four or five days. Again, it was so hard to let them go, and I missed them so much. Some enjoyed themselves more than others; a couple of them got homesick, which made me even sadder. My third child, Lillie, who had thoroughly enjoyed camp the year before, seemed to have the most trouble adjusting.

What I learned:  children need room to grow and try new things, but it doesn’t have to be right now or all at once. Lillie’s only eight – there’s still lots of time for independence, as well as lots of time for hugs and kisses. It’s not a terrible thing that she still wants to be close by, that she still wants to hold my hand, that she still wants to snuggle at night. In fact, I need to take advantage of those opportunities while I can. Time goes by so quickly, and soon she won’t want to do those things anymore; she’ll be independent…and I’ll wish she wasn’t.