It’s the end of your kids’ time at Camp. You’ve made the drive north and are excited to hear about what happened during their time at Mini-Yo-We. You go through our check-out process and get some big hugs from your kids. You pile everyone into the car and are ready to make the drive back home. Now what?
This past summer, we asked our Camp parents about some best practices for welcoming kids home after a great week at Camp. Here are six great tips we’ve heard for ensuring that your kids’ transition back to home life is fantastic!
- Have a Plan // Our biggest tip is to have a plan for after you pick your kids up. Pick-up can be a bit overwhelming because you are excited to see your kids and they are excited to see you. On top of that, many kids are sad to leave Mini-Yo-We because it’s been such a positive experience for them! It can feel like an emotional whirlwind, and without a plan to slow things down you might miss some special moments as a family. Here are some activities families plan to do after picking up their kids:
- Head into Huntsville, throw all the laundry into a laundromat machine, and then go out for lunch. After lunch, fold and repack all the clothes together while the kids’ reminisce about their new Camp memories!
- Take a picture of the kids somewhere at Camp in the same spot every year after picking up a piece of clothing from the tuck shop. These yearly pictures end up becoming a time capsule to look back on over the years!
- Head to Webers on Highway 11 for lunch. Each child needs to share two things they loved about Camp this year over lunch at one of the burger joint’s many picnic tables. We also provide discussion questions for families as they leave our front gate. You could give these questions to your kids to think about before you get to Webers!
- Thank Their Cabin Leader // Many of our campers talk about their cabin leaders like they’re superheroes! We love how much our campers love their leaders! We suggest you come ready to thank your child’s cabin leader. Maybe bring a small note of appreciation with you. (No pressure, but sometimes families even bring $5 gift cards to Tim Hortons or McDonald’s as a thank you for our hard-working staff!) When you hand this note to your child’s leader, take this time to ask them for some feedback on the week. Particularly for our youngest campers, it can sometimes be hard for kids to articulate what happened during the week. Getting some feedback from the cabin leader can help you piece together your campers’ experience at Mini-Yo-We a little more clearly.
- Lower Expectations // A lot happens in a week at Camp. Our team has our campers involved in program first thing in the morning until right before bed. Our over-the-top weekly themes have our campers living in the midst of a larger than life story. They are trying new things all the time and meeting new people in the middle of it all! Plus they spend more time in the outdoors in one week than many kids do for an entire year. In some ways, there is so much to talk about that it can be challenging for some campers to describe it all. As parents, we’ve spent all week at home wondering what our kids have been doing at Camp and what we’d really like is a blow by blow report of exactly what happened. However, a part of the value of Camp is that you are giving your child the opportunity to have a fun and engaging experience away from you. Over time, their Camp stories will come out as you live life. Things will happen in their “real world” that will remind them of Mini-Yo-We and they will tell you more and more about their time with us. In fact, we have alumni who decades later are still recalling and reminiscing about their great experiences! That’s part of what it means to be a part of Camp Mini-Yo-We; it creates memories that last a lifetime! They won’t all come out in the drive home.
- Talk About Next Time // A clear trend is that more and more of our camper families are choosing to sign up for the next year way in advance. In fact, we’ve gone from having just a few dozen campers signed up at the end of the summer for the following year to the point where almost 900 kids are already signed up for next summer and multiple weeks are over 60% sold out. The reason why this is happening is because campers are saying that they want to return the following summer and parents like you are registering them right away. Increasingly, it’s becoming an essential part of your “departure” experience to talk about the next summer and take action to register your child. We’re heading toward a time when camper families will need to sign up for the following summer as they depart from Mini-Yo-We because of increasing interest in coming to Camp. The longer you wait, the fewer options there will be available for your kids for next summer. Plan ahead and register today. [Click here to register today and use the code HOMEPLAN and you’ll get $50 off your registration, $25 in FREE tuck shop credit, and a FREE 2020 theme shirt (valued at $20)]
- Go Through the Photos & Videos Together // We take hundreds of photos during the week at Mini-Yo-We to help parents get a sense of what is happening at Camp. However, these can be a great tool for you when you get home to help your child talk about their experience. Bring up the photos over a meal at home and ask your child to tell the family about them. (We know that sometimes it’s hard to tell what crazy Camp activity was going on that photo.) Asking your child to play “news reporter” for the images and videos is a fun spin on sharing about their time at Camp! These photos also serve as a great memory prompt to campers. You can even do this activity months after your kids are home; you would be amazed at the new stories that you’ll hear!
- Ask Lots of Questions Over Time // Just like so many things to do with parenting, you need to lead the way with your kids. It’s your role to guide your kids and help them reflect on their experience at Mini-Yo-We. A part of sending your kids to Camp is to help them process everything that happened and apply those lessons to their lives at home. The way you can do that is by asking questions about their Mini-Yo-We experience but not just in the hours and days after they get home but for months to come. Here are some examples of questions you could ask:
- What’s something you tried for the first time this summer at Mini-Yo-We?
- What did you tell your friends about Mini-Yo-We when they asked?
- Why do you like going to Mini-Yo-We?
- What was your favorite meal at Camp this year?
- What did you learn about yourself this year at Mini-Yo-We?
- Did anything happen during your week at Camp that you think you’ll remember for the rest of your life?
- What did you learn about God at Mini-Yo-We?
- What makes a great leader at Camp? How can you be more like that?
- What do you want to do in the future at Mini-Yo-We that you didn’t get a chance to do this year?