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Preparing Your Child For Summer Camps And In-Person Learning As America Reopens

Parents nationwide are making big decisions. Some insist their child be “free from a mask mandate”, while others want both their child and teacher masked. Many want a return to full time in-person learning, while others prefer hybrid or distance learning. There is no way to know the rationale behind each parent’s plea. If grandparents are residing in the home, parents might be more protective. If parents have succumbed to financial strain, physical pain, mental disorders, or loss of a loved one, they may view things differently. As more of the country is vaccinated and mask mandates are lifted, change is happening. Your mental health and that of your child are being affected. Improving Lives Counseling Services provides mental health checkups to children, adolescents, teens, adults, and seniors.

Many state and local legislators have instructed schools to return to full time in-person learning. Young athletes have returned to sports – children, adolescents, and teens to extra-curricular activities and seniors to class outings and prom. More than half of the citizenry is vaccinated and children ages 12-17 are getting vaccinated. These recent changes, or opportunities to return to a more normal life, add as much confusion as delight. Particularly for parents planning vacations and choosing summer camps.

Your child’s mental health and well-being matters as America reopens. Re-establishing in-person contacts and connecting with friends they have only seen online has a social and emotional affect. Though rules, regulations, and guidelines for daytime and sleepover camps are controlled by the state – most of which follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, your child may be fearful of “returning to normal”. They may be frightful of removing a mask, joining a large gathering, or touching a friend. They may wonder who is safe and who is not – particularly if they have lost a family member to COVID-19. Even the look on a parent’s face as they browse camp flyers can send a fretful message to a shy, frightful, or reluctant child.

Summer camp, daytime or overnight, is full of learning experiences and fun activities for children of all ages, yet children arrive with more than the backpack and duffel mom and dad packed; they bring their mental health. In 2021, the challenge of distance and hybrid learning, sheltering-in-place, wearing a mask, financial and economic stressors, and sickness or loss of a loved one will arrive with each child. There is no way to know the experiences or health habits of camp counselors instructing your child, or of the children sharing a cabin with your child. You have no way of knowing how COVID-19 has mentally affected your child’s friends – both old and new.

The pandemic has significantly changed the lives of families. Recent research reports stress, anxiety, an inability to cope, and symptoms of depression have been observed in children and in adults. The need for open, honest communication is crucial. If you’re responding with, “I don’t know”, or “we will see” when deciding on a summer camp or extracurricular summer activity, perhaps this is not the time. These decisions can stir emotions, especially where children are involved.

The internet is full of what parents need to know when choosing a camp – what safety guidelines to look for, and what precautions to take. They say camp staff should be vaccinated, and hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social-distancing should be enforced. They say indoor camps should be well ventilated, contact sports limited, and temperatures taken daily. Yet, every day the CDC comes out with new guidelines, particularly for children. Today they said children didn’t need masks outdoors and if camp staff is vaccinated masks weren’t needed.

Meet With Our Mental Health Professionals Today

First-time sleepover campers can be anxious about being away from home and fear COVID-19. Experienced campers might know the emotions of sleepovers yet fear COVID-19. Let us help. What you as a parent can be sure of is the mental health and wellbeing of your child – before they leave for camp. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of licensed professional counselors and therapists (through the mental health check-up) can provide your child with a “mental health wellness toolbox”. If a best friend’s grandparent has died, a friend’s dad lost his job – if camp is different due to CDC guidelines, or a favorite activity is canceled, your child can know what they feel, why they feel it, and how to deal with their emotions. Call us.