Experts say the return of overnight camp will be beneficial for kids’ mental health

Connecticut Families

Conn. (WTNH)– “Life to a certain degree has been so contained,” says Dr. Ryan Loss of Connecticut Behavioral Health, who believes the return of overnight camp will be beneficial for kids’ development and mental health.

“The independence of an overnight camp gives you that nice separation from your parents. You become more independent, more self-dependent,” he says, noting this is vital because, in isolation, kids have become less apt to take healthy risks.

Some have become less motivated.

“You’re brought into an environment where you have to, to a certain degree, fend for yourself, in terms of brushing your teeth and taking care of these other aspects of life and those are important pieces to grow from,” he says.

So, what if kids, used to remote activities, are scared to go? Dr. Loss says to reflect on history, discuss problem-solving and talk about available resources to help with homesickness.

“Sometimes too much information gets you over-thinking but the right amount of concrete knowledge of what this is generally going to look like can certainly help ease some of the concerns,” he says.

The clinical psychologist is also on the board of the overnight camp in Madison that he went to as a child.

He says, prepare for a new look: “There’s just going to be some differences, a different feel.”

Think masks, new protocols at mealtime, cohorts in cabins, and testing. But Dr.Loss believes the important thing is kids being together, enjoying the outdoors, finding some normalcy in a less structured environment – a time-honored tradition.

“Just as kids need a break from their parents, parents need a break from their kids sometimes,” says Dr. Loss. “I think it will be a positive thing for the kids, they’ll be able to get back to a place that’s really their summer home and family. It’s a big excitement for them.”

Many overnight camps have already sent out a preliminary plan and are currently awaiting more guidance from the state.

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