As we end another day of rapidly breaking news and shifting advice from health and government authorities, we wanted to reach out to our camp community to offer a few important reminders and hints for maintaining good personal physical, emotional, and social health when the world appears to have lost its grip on all those things.
These recommendations are made based on the situation here in the US Northeast. Schools (and now most businesses) are closed for 2 weeks, and it is more than likely this closure will stretch into a 3rd or even 4th week. The official CDC guidance suggests these measures could be in place until mid-May. As such students are being assigned online lessons, and parents are often asked to work from home. We are assuming that your family, like ours, is pretty much stuck around the house together. These are our suggestions for keeping yourself and your camper healthy, and as happy as possible.
Here we go…
- Establish a routine – we see the importance of this every summer. Routine makes everyone feel better. Assess the needs of everyone in the house, and establish hours for starting “school” and work, taking breaks together, and when it is time to “end” school or work for the day. Try to keep this routine as close to normal as possible. It is not just little kids who crave routine, we all do.
- Manage screens – if you are working or doing academic work on a laptop, when the work is done, shut it down and walk away. Don’t just jump over to social media or news sites. Keep the TV off except for pre-determined hours, and decide what you want and need to watch. Avoid 24-hour news, it is a proven stressor.
- Get required sleep – this is really an extension of points 1 and 2. Sleep is super important for maintaining optimal physical and mental health. Use this opportunity.
- Plan quality unstructured time – family game night is back! Hikes are cool again. Riding bikes to nowhere is trending.
- Facilitate quality socialization – I’m sure most of your campers are perfectly adept at FaceTime with their friends but ask them if they need help or resources to make this happen. While in-person socialization is the gold standard, when this is taken away, video calling is the next best option.
- Monitor use of social media – if face-to-face interaction is best, and video calling is next best, social media (SM) use is in a very distant last place. Social media has been shown to be quite harmful to mental health when used for more than 1-2 hours per day. We are worried about campers spending significant amounts of time on SM during this crisis.
- Get outside – social distancing does not mean shutting in. The weather is improving here in the north-east. Making time to get outside to a park, woods, beach or other outdoor space is great for your physical and mental health. Maintain the 6 feet space to others, practice good hygiene, and stay in if you are sick, but please make time to be outside. It is so important.
- Exercise – obviously.
- Be good to each other – now is a great time to practice the gratitude and kindness we take for granted and rely on during the summer.
- Manage stress – all of these suggestions are great in and of themselves, and they also help mitigate stress. Stress is hard on your immune system, so keeping it to a minimum is important.
Finally – if your camper (or you) would just like to talk to a trusted adult, we are here (as camp directors) to help. Monique is an LCPC-c (licensed professional counselor) and works with kids all year round. Matt is halfway through a PhD investigating the importance of play, and socialization, on adolescent well-being. We know, and have known, many, many teens over the years. They are remarkable, resilient, empathetic, mysterious, wonderful future leaders. We want them to know we are here for them, as is the entire camp community.
Look for some fun stuff to come from camp soon.
Stay safe, maintain distance, wash your hands…