Camp canceled? How to ease your child’s feelings of loss over missing this important experience

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — “Camp teaches us to look out for other people before we look out for ourselves,” says Dr. Chris Thurber, a psychologist, educator, and dad, who believes the decision to postpone some camps for the season is an unselfish act that children can learn from.

“It’s something that says, ‘I care a lot about other people and I don’t want to bring coronavirus home to my family,'” he explained.

But those lessons of self-reliance and independence that kids usually get – especially at overnight camp – will be lacking this year. Or, will they?

“What is the silver lining? What else can you do with what circumstances you have?” Thurber asked.

Families can get back to the basics.

Christina Bibisi’s husband has encouraged his crew to seek solace in nature.

“We live in the woods,” explains this Middletown mom. “So, he goes and makes a campsite in the woods and he brings the boys out there.”

But, what if parents need a break?

Thurber, author of The Summer Camp Handbook, says kids can be creative and productive.

“If it’s a local lawn mowing business, learn how to manage money, be responsible and set a schedule and get creative about marketing,” he says.

It’s also OK for kids to be bored and for parents to give them space, in an age-appropriate way.

“It is developmentally healthy for kids, as long as they feel supported by parents, to be branching out and doing some things on their own,” he says.

Remember: what kids get out of camp isn’t the flashy landscape and equipment. It’s inner personal growth that they can find almost anywhere.

“Playing in the dirt, playing in the sandlot down the street, riding your bike is all you need,” he says. But, kids will certainly miss their friends and camp activities, so, he hopes the situation returns to normal next summer.

In response to children’s grief around camp cancellations and parents’ concerns about non-academic online activities, Dr. Thurber has created two new videos on his web site.

Click here for more information.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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