It is impossible to grow inside of your comfort zone. As parents and adults, and it easy for us to tell this to our children when encouraging them to try something new, but do we take it to heart ourselves?
On the first day of camp, nearly all of our campers are nervous, some much more than others. Even before camp, we talk to parents who say, “my child refuses to go” and “I don’t know how we’re going to get him out of the car.” And that has happened, coaxing kids out of the car. While most families feel that they are alone in these anxieties, they are not! It is natural to feel nervous about something you have never done before, especially if you struggle with anxiety or have had negative experiences in the past. If you asked parents to go to camp hours away from home, for 12 days, with other adults they didn’t know, they would be nervous too!
But there are so many opportunities to grow when you step out of your comfort zone. It is hard to see this when you have immediately crossed the “zone” boundary and all you want to do is step back in, but after some time and processing (which we try to do with each of our campers), you can really begin to see how far you’ve come.
This year was my first summer at SOAR. As a notorious worrier even in adulthood, I could sympathize with all of the campers who were feeling nervous on day one. If I were in that situation 10 years ago, I would have been the exact same way. I have spent most of my young life doing things I know I am good at, trying very few new things, and enjoying the comforts of “my zone”. As you can imagine, this gets boring and unfulfilling, so with the start of the new year (2015), I decided I was going to try some new things. One of those things was a 8 week pottery class. Aside from play dough, I have never crafted anything functional with my hands. I was nervous the first night, but I just kept telling myself “how hard can it be?” Well, it was hard! I didn’t want to go back. My immediate thoughts were, “I’m not good at this”, “My teacher must think I’m stupid”, and “I should just give up now instead of trying and failing later.”
Have you heard these thoughts before from your child?
As you probably guessed and since I am writing this blog post, I stuck with it. As the weeks went by, I actually got the hang of it! Now, I’m kind of “good”, for a beginner, and I love it! I started applying my teacher’s feedback instead of just letting it make me upset. He praised the things I did well and offered constructive feedback to help me improve. I noticed my confidence building week by week, and about half way through, I thought, “This is how our campers feel.” They come to SOAR feeling pretty uncomfortable and nervous about what they next 12-26 days will hold, but as they try new activities they’ve never done before and start to realize that they can succeed, they’re confidence skyrockets and their behavior improves. It is now so clear to me why.
It is an amazing feeling to step out of your comfort zone and experience success! These experiences make it so much easier to try other new things and take what you’ve learned and apply it to other areas, which is what we hope for each of our campers! If your child is feeling nervous about the possibility of overnight camp, let them know that these feelings are okay! We all feel nervous about things that are unfamiliar to us, even Mom and Dad, but in order to truly grow, we must step out!
Whether your camper is excited about coming to SOAR or feeling a little nervous, there are a few things you can do to make the transition smooth and set your camper up for an amazing experience! There are also a few things you can do to help prepare yourself!
Know What to Expect
One of the best ways to ease any anxiety about camp, is to be very clear with your camper about what exactly they will be doing while they’re at SOAR. We highly recommend looking over the course schedule to give you and your camper a better idea of what will be going on each day at camp. As you walk through the course of each day with your camper, they will have the opportunity to voice any worries that they have and feel more comfortable about the adventure ahead.
You can also head over to the Parent Group on Facebook to see pictures from different courses to look through with your camper and get excited about all of the amazing activities!
Course Schedules can be found online or in your CampInTouch Account.
Talk About Any Concerns
Speaking of voicing worries, be sure to address any concerns or worries that your child has beforehand! Here are some typical questions your camper may ask along with answers you can respond with.
What kind of food will I eat?
While on basecamp, the camp cook will make your meals. A typical day on base may include pancakes, bacon, and eggs for breakfast, xxx for lunch, and xxx for dinner. Before heading out on your expedition, you and your group will plan your meals together, and purchase and prepare everything you will need. A typical day in the field may include breakfast burritos, deli sandwiches for lunch, and trail pizzas for dinner! Vegetarian? Gluten Free? No worries. We are happy to accommodate and make whatever substitutions you need.
What if I get homesick?
Being away from home can be tough and everyone at SOAR totally understands. If you get homesick, let someone know so you can talk about it one on one where you feel comfortable! You will also get the opportunity to write home and tell us about how you’re doing, why you’re feeling homesick, and to tell us all of the awesome things you’re doing and how much fun you’re having at camp.
What are the other kids like?
Most of the kids will be just like you! Most campers generally like the outdoors (but might also love computer games) and like being active. Rather than just reading our talking about something, most of the campers at SOAR want to do it and experience it first-hand! You will also meet some kids who hoping to make some friends that they can relate to, so try and get to know the other kids in your group.
Can I bring my Tablet/Phone/Computer/Etc.?
You can’t bring your [insert favorite electronic device] with you to camp, but you are going to be so busy doing different activities and making new friends that you won’t even think about once you get there. You can keep it with you when traveling, drop it off once you get to camp, and pick it up before you leave.
If there is a certain situation, activity, or interaction that your camper is feeling nervous about, role play it! It can be as simple as, “How to Introduce Yourself to Other Campers”. Often times when you role play a situation, the fear goes away, and your camper will feel more comfortable and confident.
Create a Countdown
To help build excitement, we recommend adding the first day of camp to your family calendar or creating a calendar just for camp. Cross off each day leading up to camp until the day finally arrives!
Recommended Read: Homesick and Happy
And for camper parents, we recommend picking up a copy of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow. Author, Michael Thompson, covers most of your concerns about sending your camper away and how the experience will be a positive one for you and your child!
There are multiple options for making sure your campers gets to camp and back home safe and happy. You may make arrangements to have your camper fly to and from camp or may physically drop off and pick up your camper at camp. Below are some tips and guidelines for traveling to and from camp. You can find specific information regarding the required travel arrangements in your CampInTouch account under the Travel Form.
If you live within driving distance of your campers adventure, you may drop them off in person to the camp starting location. Prior to arrival, you will need to call SOAR at 828-456-3435 to schedule an arrival and departure time to the camp. This time will also serve as the in-brief and de-brief time for all North Carolina and Wyoming courses. All other locations will provide in-briefs and de-briefs by phone before and after the course.
Each SOAR course location has specific travel information and flight windows to book flights. Please make sure you review your course specific information as well as the travel form in your CampInTouch account before booking flights. Please contact Andrea Wackerle, Registrar, if you have any specific questions about flights before booking.
Campers flying to their starting location will be picked up by a SOAR staff at the airport and then driven to their course’s base. Many airlines offer unaccompanied minor assistance for an extra fee. Airlines differ in age requirements for a child to fly unattended, so please make sure to check with the airline before booking your flight. This service provides a flight attendant to accompany your camper until the SOAR staff receives your camper. Campers flying solo without the unaccompanied service will be met at the edge of security on their way to baggage claim. You will be notified once your child is with a SOAR staff.
Nervous to have your camper fly solo? You are also welcome to travel with your camper to meet the staff in person. This allows both first time campers and parents to gain a better understanding about the adventure ahead. Some parents choose to stay during their child’s adventure at location near the base. However, for your camper’s return, this is a great time to nurture their increased confidence by having them fly home as an unaccompanied minor many.
If your camper has a cell phone and charger, please make sure they bring it while traveling. Once arriving to SOAR, all electronics will be held during the length of the course. We will make sure that they are charged and returned to the camper before leaving. Do not pack any medication in checked baggage. All campers should carry medication with them at all times during travel. You may also want to provide extra cash for their flight home if needed.
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 828-456-3435