The Blog of the West Wind

The Blog of the West Wind

Bunk One

Saturday, November 17, 2007/by Chuck Mills/Go Back

A parent asked me this the other day:

"Do you subscribe to Bunk 1; can we see pictures of our son on the website during the summer?"

I had no idea what Bunk 1 was. No, we don't subscribe to any service that makes it possible for parents to view their child in action at camp. We view ourselves as partners with parents as they turn their children over to our care, but we believe that the camp experience is for the child, not the parent.

As parents we do not choose a camp lightly. We make certain that the people are thoughtful, caring, and kind; we make sure the program is well-designed, with clear goals consistent with a meaningful mission; we make sure the camp's approach and philosophy are in line with our own. We look at the camp's approach to safety, the return rate of their staff and campers; we look at the quality of equipment and the state of the facility. Then we agree to let our child have the experience promised by the camp. We have faith in the choice we've made, trust our decision, and the people involved with the administration of the camp.

A huge challenge for parents is to trust their kids to do their best without them. A huge part of the experience for the kids is to have the chance to live in another environment without their parents. They learn to work through problems under the guidance of other caring adults; they learn to take care of their home space and belongings; they explore new challenges and accept the controlled risks offered on their own terms, at their own pace; they learn about personal potential and limits, in activities and socially: they learn what it is to become an independent person. In order for a camp staff to deliver these opportunities their attention must be focused at all times on each child in their care.

Certainly, it is an obligation of the camp director to communicate with parents, but this is best accomplished by spending time with the kids in the course of their day, getting to know them and how they are handling themselves so that information shared with parents can be meaningful and helpful. The felt need to manage pictures on a website - making sure that the pictures are of smiling faces, that every child is represented, that the kids have clean tee shirts on ' is nothing but a distraction from the real focus of camp.

Programs that boast access to photos or webcam video on the internet are spending too much time thinking about parents and not enough about children. When you enroll your son at Kabeyun we agree to assume the role of partner in parenting while he is in our care. We make ourselves available to parents as much as they need; we do not hesitate to consult with parents when there is a problem they need to know about. Our campers develop a strong sense of ownership in Kabeyun. It is a place they can call their own, where they feel connected and it is the development of this sort of connection that is a central part of our mission and an essential part of their development. The camp experience at Kabeyun is a great gift we can give our sons; allowing them to go away for four or eight weeks is a powerful demonstration of the faith we have of their abilities. Camp is about them, not us.