Next Steps

Camp Would Help Re-Entry to a “New Norm”

Katie Warren Whitlatch

March 15 marked a turning point for families in Pennsylvania.  The hustle of bustle of daily life came to a grinding halt.  No longer were we all running out the door to get to school and work on time, shuttling kids to activities after school, and trying to squeeze in family time and bath time before bed.  In an instant, we were faced with creating a new normal for our families.

In the early days of the quarantine, I was obsessed with the sample routines proffered by parents everywhere on Instagram and Pinterest.  Set the routine early and all will be well, they said.  Balance physical activity and work time and your kids will feel supported and happy, they said.  I bought whiteboards, notebooks, workbooks, sidewalk chalk, blue painter’s tape, and anything else I could think of to create an environment of routine, order and support in my house.

Fast forward two weeks to the painter’s tape sitting unopened, sidewalk chalk being pulverized into powder, whiteboards being used as doodle-boards, and my sanity holding on by a thread.  The reality of all of this family time stands in stark contrast to what I thought it would be.  Regardless of what schedules I tried to create or what planning I did, the truth is this is hard for everybody – trying to make my 5 and 10 year old kids understand that the home that they consider their safe space where they have the freedom to be authentically themselves must now also become their school, their playground, their library, their after school activity center, and everything else in their world.  I could have scheduled every minute of their days and it would not be the same as the world that they had come to know and had become comfortable with in the days, months and years leading up to this time.

After four more weeks of this quarantine, we have slowly adjusted.  School work is (generally) getting done on weekdays, we are trying to get outside in some capacity most days,we are doing some puzzles, playing some board games, and watching lots of movies.  Wake up time is relatively fluid as long as the kids get to their morning Google Meets on time.  We are still trying to figure out the right number and length of breaks during the day and voices are sometimes raised higher than I would like.  We are with each other 24 hours a day 7 days a week, without the luxury of time with teachers, friends and coaches who often help us all to moderate our tempers.  As previously mentioned, this is definitely hard on everybody.

But I see a light at the end of the dark quarantine tunnel.  The glimmer, the possibility, of camp is shining brightly ahead of me. And it is not only for the reasons for which I look forward to camp every year for myself and for my kids.  Anticipating a return to a “new” normal in the fall, hopefully, with in person days, I am looking to the possibility of a camp experience in the summer of 2020 as a way to ease my children back into a more structured lifestyle.  Camp, in the summer of 2020, would be an opportunity for my kids to become reacquainted with their emotional outlets of friends and teachers or counselors and for all of us to re-center ourselves into a more balanced life.

Camp in the summer of 2020 would provide a welcome means of re-entry to our kids.  I am a true believer in the power of camp as a means of furthering the social and emotional growth of our children.  We, as camp professionals, have the added responsibility (and honor) of helping to guide your children from a difficult time full of uncertainty and confusion back into a time of happiness and comfort.   I, for one, cannot wait to get started!

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