Camp Grandma

Overnight camps may not fit every child's personality, but that doesn't mean your introverted child can't have a fun summer camp experience.

With the end of the school year rapidly approaching (or already here for some), it’s time to decide what to do with the kids all summer. There are so many alluring advertisements for summer camp, most of them involving promises of outdoor adventure, friends, sports and activity. For most kids that sounds like a great summer escape, but what if you have a kid whose idea of a good time is to sit quietly and sew or read a book? Or what if you have the kind of child who prefers a singular friend instead of a gaggle of buddies?

I have two kids, one extrovert and one introvert. My oldest daughter was all aboard the sleep-over-camp train, enthusiastically signing up for a week at church camp with a friend. She packed her bag and excitedly climbed onto the church bus steps without a glance back. While her friend called home several times that week, my brave little seven year old didn’t call once. When I questioned her about that later she replied, “Why would I need to call when I was going to see you at the end of the week?”

In contrast, my other daughter was vehemently opposed to the mere mention of any kind of camp, but my mom won her over with the idea of Camp Grandma! The reality is that my mom was already providing most of the child care in the summer while I was at work, but with my oldest daughter being gone for a week, my mom took it upon herself to make that week extra special for my six-year-old daughter. Every day was planned with activities that revolved around my quiet-natured daughter’s interests. One day was sewing Barbie clothes, one day was knitting, one day was ceramics, etc. My mom planned special sack lunches and snacks, and they even built a tent out of sheets to get the “camp” atmosphere. The Camp Grandma week was a big hit and was repeated for several years.

When my quiet, introvert daughter was 10, she and her best friend thought maybe they were ready for sleep-away camp. The moms and daughters took a trip to check out the camp that was a short drive away. We took a tour and the girls seriously inspected the cabins they would be staying in. They were hesitant, yet excited. On the way home, they sat in the backseat discussing the pros and cons and in the end, they decided they couldn’t bring themselves to stay away from home for an entire week. They decided they were more comfortable going to Vacation Bible School in the day and taking turns having sleep overs at each other’s houses.

There is no “right” way to be, introvert or extrovert are both acceptable personalities. As parents, we need to respect the differences and allow children to be who they are. This can be difficult when we live in a culture that tends to reward people that are extroverts and schools often favor the children that show “leadership” qualities. Children should not have to attempt to alter their innate personality to conform to expectations. One of my kids loved to have big groups of friends, slumber parties and go to camp, and that was wonderful. The other like having one friend and pursuing solitary, artistic endeavors, and that was great also. The youngest never went to overnight camp, but she did eventually attend two day camps that appealed to her specific interests: an art camp and a science camp.

Finding summer activities that suit your schedule, budget and also your child’s personality and interests can be a challenge, but Tulsa has a wide range of offerings. Check out the Tulsa Kids Summer Family Fun Guide to find all kinds of camps, activities and events for your children. And if your child is lucky, maybe they will get to experience a Camp Grandma! Happy summer!

Categories: Single Stepping