Conversations Before Camp
CONVERSATIONS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CAMP
It is our philosophy that campers have the highest potential for a successful summer when parents collaborate with us on camper goals and expectations. In an effort to reinforce the values of Camp Ramah in the Poconos, this document serves as a supplement to our Camper Readiness Guide highlighting camper expectations for summer. We encourage you to consider the questions below and use the prompts as an entry point to talk through the themes with your child - regardless of their age and camp experience - prior to the first day of camp.
INDEPENDENCE AND ADVOCACY
Independence to care for oneself is a strong measure of camper readiness and one predictor for a successful summer. While staff are always available to support campers, it is also an expectation that campers can take care of their own basic needs.
- On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your child’s ability to be independent? Keeping in mind the expectations for overnight campers, what skills should your child practice now to foster independence this summer?
- How does your child react when they have misplaced something meaningful (item of clothing, stuffed animal, homework assignment, phone) at home or at school? What steps do they take independently to locate the object and address their emotional reactions?
- Is your child comfortable and prepared to advocate for their needs and concerns? (Consider things such as: dietary needs, not receiving a first-choice activity, when others’ actions are upsetting or concerning)
PROMPT FOR CONVERSATION: What are strategies you can use when you’re having trouble doing something independently? There is ALWAYS someone to go to when you need help at camp – who are these people?
ATTENTION, LISTENING AND FOLLOW THROUGH
We are proud to have a high camper to staff ratio in the bunk as well as a strong presence of adult staff at camp. It is important to note that young staff members, ages18-22, are the primary supports for your child throughout the summer. These staff relate to children in meaningful ways, as they have for generations, and at the same time, they are not professional educators. It is the expectation that your child is capable of listening and following through with staff instructions and feedback.
- How does your child respond to authority figures?
- How easy is it for your child to follow directions?
- How does your child handle when asked to participate/follow directions for a non-preferred activity?
- Does your child have to tools to respond kindly and civilly - and with appropriate emotional reaction - when they have a differing viewpoint from others?
- Is your child prepared to have a positive attitude toward all activities and participate in ways that are behaviorally appropriate and expected at camp?
PROMPT FOR CONVERSATION: What are some things you can say or do when you disagree with your counselor or bunkmate? How will you respond when you’re asked to do something you don’t really feel like doing?
COMMUNAL LIVING/SHARED SPACE
One of the most meaningful parts of camp is the opportunity to share a living space with close friends. The camp experience fosters an environment that promotes respecting others, understanding how to share space, and learning how to navigate conflict with peers.
- Would you consider your child to be an introvert or extrovert?
- How does your child handle being surrounded by others for long periods of time? With minimal personal space/quiet alone time?
- How does your child navigate conflict with peers? What skills do they have to manage when things do not go their way?
- How does your child do when they are unable to get as much sleep as they might need?
- Is your child prepared to keep track of and manage ALL of the belongings that you are packing for them, in the small space allocated? (link to packing list)
PROMPT FOR CONVERSATION: How might you respond when you’re frustrated with your friends? How will you manage your belongings in the bunk?
With the support and encouragement of staff members, campers are expected to make good, healthy and safe choices regarding their behavior and to abide with the Memorandum of Understanding (link).
- What skills does your child have in place to practice making good choices?
- When your child is interacting with peers who are not behaving in the way that is expected, is your child able to make independent decisions about their own behavior?
- How does your child respond to peer influence?
- Does your child recognize that while camp has a different structure than school, there are rules and expectations that must be followed?
- Does your child recognize that safety is of paramount importance at camp they are expected and responsible for making healthy and safe choices?
PROMPT FOR CONVERSATION: How can you help yourself do the right thing, even when it might be hard? What will you do when your friends aren’t making a good choice? Let’s talk about what it means to be safe at camp.
CAMP SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
One of our core values at camp is inclusivity. Our community is comprised of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. Some campers come to camp knowing many others from home or school, and some knowing no one. It is the expectation that all campers demonstrate behavior that is kind and inclusive.
- How does your child react to meeting new people?
- What experience and skills does your child have in navigating peer relationships?
- How has your child practiced branching out of their social comfort zone to lead with kindness and inclusivity?
- Does your camper recognize that while they may have close friends at camp, exclusionary and unkind behavior is unacceptable and goes against our mission of leading with kindess, meeting new friends and widening social circles?
PROMPT FOR CONVERSATION: What does it mean to be a good friend? What steps can you take to make sure you’re being a good friend to everyone, even those you may not know well (yet)? What can you do when you see someone behaving unkindly?