As of writing there are 2 weeks til all our kids come home from full session (7 weeks) camps – sweaty, exhausted, and potentially in culture shock at being back in the digital universe. If you’ve never done sleepaway camp before, prepare for a very well-behaved child for the first week or so after camp. Camp gets them in such a good routine, that my eldest son came home and actually made his bed and went to sleep without us on his first night back. You can definitely prepare certain things – their favorite meal, cozy new sheets on their bed, and a visit from their bestie – but what you can’t really prepare for is the serotonin drop. Simply put – some kids get the post-camp blues worse than others.
@ScaryCampMom tell us:
“Less is more! After a summer of indulgences, it’s great to not bombard. In our humble opinion, a photo album with pictures from the summer at camp is a great go to. Also we love the idea of organizing a home friends get together in the day or two following the busses delivering your babies home. One pro tip- tell the kids to pack whatever you need for your post camp trip in their back packs. And if you thought ahead and sent a small duffle to throw under the bus, loaded with bathing suits, T-shirts and shorts, even better! As as for the post camp blues, know it takes time and just keep them busy!”
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Author, Actor, and camp Dad Matt Boren tells us;
“When we pick the kids up from camp we bee-line it home because the kids want their bedrooms, their things, their house. There is no seeing relatives until they’re recharged and ready. Returning home from camp is delicate. The kids inevitably instantly miss their camp world and they are stoked to be in the comfort of their home. They want to see their home friends, of course, but they need a good 24 hours of nothingness – it’s about binging Stranger Things and cooking up their favorite things. A soft, cozy, quiet landing and for a day or two they call the shots and we treat them like yassss queens.”
If you’re reading this article – you’re likely the kind of parent who is obviously going to anticipate and prepare for your prodigious child/ren’s arrival home.
Here are some things to consider:
- Prepare their favorite meal for their first day back or a meal at their favorite casual restaurant.
- Put on their softest bed sheets. Make their beds a haven of cozy to come back to.
- Give them lazy days in bed with their devices. They are exhausted when they get home. Let them veg out as long as they need to.
- A banner/ balloons/ a treat. Some parents buy banners for their homes for the arrive back, or balloons. Others just have a bag of their favorite bagels on the counter top for arrival home. You know your child best. If you feel like a banner is the way to go – you can order them here.
- Expect the serotonin drop – prepare in advance for it. That can be as prepared as asking your camp director for suggestions of what to say when the sadness settles in to planning a session with a child therapist if your child gets more serious blues.
- Book dates with their closest camp friends or group – they will tell you who they want to see. Let them know those friendships can be maintained – via Roblox and in person!
- Keep the energy happy, but relaxed. Don’t force plans or travel on them unless they explicitly seem ready to rock. Camp is an intense, magical experience. Let them coast for a while.
- Organize their closets – trust us – when the trunks arrive home and you’re doing laundry for 3 days, you’ll be very happy to put clothing back in a neat and tidy closet. Keep 3 plastic bins in the room when doing the closet – 1 for donations, 1 for camp next year, and 1 for spot cleaning. It’ll make everything run just that much smoother.
- Pull out all the stained clothes from your trunks and have a tie dye party in the yard. It’s a relaxing thing to do, but an activity nonetheless, that will rescue slightly ruined tee’s from the trash pile.
- Look up the names of the parents/ Moms of the kids they have told you in their letters they bonded with. Be in touch/ start a relationship. This is for all of you – nurturing the camp bonds your child has made will only make next summer that much sweeter. Invite the family over for a playdate, camp is about family friendships too.
- Go grocery shopping – get all their favorite foods so they come home to a stocked fridge.
- Don’t make them tell you everything on the first day, let them ease into all the stories and experiences they’ve had. It will come out – let them tell you on their time.
- Covid test them upon arrival. Camps aren’t testing them as they arrive back home, you’ll want to know if they’re positive before they cuddle with everyone else in the home.
- Don’t wake them! They need sleep after this experience – if they want to sleep til noon, so be it. Their bodies know best.
- Chill the f out about missing pairs of socks, yucky shoes, and things mispacked in the trunks. Toss what needs to go, donate what is salvageable, and move on. What matters is the fun – not the ruined Nike shorts.
- Talk about camp! Camp is a forever experience if you keep it alive in the household. Talk about it once your child is settled back in. When you’re out shopping and you see a cute fan say “oh that would be great for camp next summer, I’m going to write down the brand name.” Keep the experience alive. It’s not over, tell them, it’s just a countdown til next summer!
- Shop the sales! Now is the time to buy sizes up for your kiddos for camp next summer – when everything is 70% off. You’ll thank us next year. Put it all in a plastic bin and on top of a closet, forget it til next year.
- Spend quality time together. School starts so soon, now is the time for movies in bed together, berry picking, baking cookies, or eating breakfast together outside. Put down the phone and soak them in.
- Some kids may fall directly into a mourning period – or be in shock after that much 24 hour a day fun. Let them mourn, but get in bed with them and hold them as they are doing it.
- Don’t be surprised if they are freezing with the AC – remember they just came home from NO AC for 7 weeks. They have been outdoors or inside with fans for weeks, the AC may blast them into a full blown summer cold. Keep the AC lower, or off whenever possible for the first week as they transition back into home life.
There’s only 46 weeks til summer 2023! Let the countdown begin!
Chloé Jo Davis is a camp mom of 3, and the founder of GirlieGirl Army. Follow her on Instagram to see how she deals with the sleepaway post-days.