Dear Camp Family,
As you have been likely following, the US has been experiencing a period of political change at a dramatic pace. Following the news feels like a full-time job some days.We wanted to reach out for two brief, and related reasons. We have heard from and spoken to numerous campers and staff over the last couple of weeks and months. Regardless of where any stand on the political spectrum, we have noticed an increased level of interest in politics.Of some concern to us is the fact that this has been leading to increased levels of stress and anxiety, as our young adults and adolescents have the most at stake, and yet, have the least amount of control (particularly teens who are not old enough to vote). We know that if you feel you have command over a situation, there’s a decreased level of stress and anxiety.
In light of this, there are a few suggestions we’d like to highlight here:
- Social media and screen time can contribute to stress levels and interfere with sleep under normal circumstances. Now is a great time to encourage your camper to swap 30 minutes of screen time for a walk outdoors, to play with a pet, bring out a board game, or bake some cookies. If they have learned relaxation techniques at camp or school, remind them to practice these often, and deliberately.
- Remind them of the diversity and tolerance they live and breathe while at camp, how much it helps strengthen their sense of community and how much it means to them.
- Help them get involved in community building organizations (or start their own). Recognizing and acknowledging the teenage desire to “make a difference” is important. Depending on the age of your camper, you may need to help them get involved, but whenever possible, let them do as much as they can.
- Encourage them to reach out to distant friends. The connections they have to camp friends is hard to overstate. Connections build empathy. And who doesn’t need that? Remind your camper that it takes work to keep these connections, but that their camp friends will be excited to hear from them.
We are lucky here at camp, because we get to meet and know hundreds of remarkable young people every summer. We take great comfort in the fact that the future is going to be in their hands, and enjoy seeing them face the challenges of adolescence and young adulthood, knowing that these challenges are preparing them for their years ahead. They may feel more challenged now than normally, and should remind themselves that they are very, very capable of meeting those challenges, and of doing great things in years to come.
Monique Rafuse-Pines, M.Ed, M.Sc, LCPC-C
Matt Pines, M.Ed
PS. Camp is always at it's best when we hear from our camp families. Please share your thoughts, comments or feedback with firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com