By: Rebecca Perlman Coniglio, LCSW
Author of Lily’s Little Life Lessons
The fireflies are out and about lighting up the hot summer nights, Fourth of July decorations are being put away, and that means it is almost time for day camp and sleep away camp visiting days to start. Time continues to fly by. Camp brings up many different images for people. There are those who absolutely love camp and 60 years later still attend camp reunions, there are those who are luke warm about camp, and then there is me. I enjoyed day camp enough I guess, but sleep away camp-not so much. I was so homesick that my heart actually ached. Only now as an adult can I even begin to appreciate the experiences I had while at camp. I learned how to windsurf and water ski and I had the lead in the play, my shining moment.
Visiting day can be difficult for homesick campers. Spending the day together and then being separated again can be painful. Add to that the drama of divorce and it can feel like the longest day of the year. From what I understand things have changed since I was a camper. Many camps now offer separate visiting days for parents who are divorced. That way the child can spend a stress free day with each parent. I applaud the camp directors who have implemented separate visiting days.
For divorced parents out there who do not have that option here are some ideas of how you can be content at camp on visiting day:
1. Pack your patience and put on a smile. It is camp and camp is fun!
2. Put aside your differences for just one day. This will be practice for other days when you will have to use this skill, such as graduations, weddings, etc.
3. Concentrate on how your child has already grown and developed in such a short time.
4. Praise your child for the risks he or she has taken by learning something new like rock climbing.
5. Remember this day is not about you or your ex-spouse; it is about your child. At the end of the day, you should feel proud that you were able to put your child’s needs before your own.
6. Celebrate summer. It is a child’s season. Think about it, ice cream, no homework, swimming, and fun outside in the sun. Take it all in and enjoy it. Remember what that feels like?
7. Bring treats!
I can only hope this advice helps on what can otherwise be an awkward day of forced togetherness. If you are able to keep focused on your child and all that he or she is learning and experiencing at day camp or sleep away camp then visiting day should be more pleasant for the whole family. I am sure your child will remember and appreciate your efforts to be content at camp. If the day goes well take yourself out for ice cream on the way home. If it does not go well, look for one of those camps who have separate visiting days for divorced parents. What can I say; you always need a plan B. Happy visiting!