Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First school camp dilemma...

So, Erik's first school camp is due in about two months time. For some reason I thought they might do an overnight camp out at the school or something to ease the kids into it, but no, it's a three day, two night adventure, 45 minutes drive away from here (which translates to something like 4 hours public transport, if there even IS public transport)... Because we don't drive, even though Dave possibly *might just* have his license by then, it would make it pretty much impossible to pick Erik up should he find he doesn't like being away from home that long.

There is a one day option, but the parents have to get the child there and pick the child up afterwards, which is out of the question for us.

The dilemma lies in that Erik has NEVER been away from both Dave and I overnight, and when I took him to Adelaide in April, he got quite teary on the second night becaue he'd been overstimulated so much with the first two long days away from home. He was homesick for Dave and Luey and Bryn. He coped by being able to call them and cry on the phone to Dave, but honestly I can't see the teachers letting him call us much. Camps notoriously involve overstimulated kids, and long, long days. I'm concerned that he'll want to go because he won't want to miss out, but at the same time, going might mean crying in front of the other kids in the class who he already feels don't really respect him...

Just to clarify, the reason Erik hasn't had a sleep over before now is NOT because we didn't want him to. The opportunity just never presented itself.

So, what to do? If we ask him if he wants to go, he's definitely going to say yes. But will he end up even less socially confident as a result of the trip, and is that a risk we want or perhaps even NEED to take.

We could wait until next year when Luey will also be in middle school and they could go on the camp together, but then again, they're not twins, and on some level Erik would really benefit from being able to do something "first" because he's "older", yk?

But can he cope with three days and two nights, and as the school has already made provision for kids who might not do well staying overnight, would they even be happy to have him if he wasn't coping too well, because we couldn't come pick him up...

What to do, what to do...


Rachael said...

I guess a lot can change in a few months. Perhaps he will be ready by then?

I think the best thing is to let him go if he is keen with a good back up plan to collect him if necessary (I know you're working on this now ), in place.

How will you know if he is ready unless you try?

Leah said...

Audrey already gets in a tizz about the one night sleepover at school in grade 2 which I imagine she will not be going to lol I cant see her going to camp until grade 5 or 6 if she's anything like I was and how she is now ... I'll ask her tho. I'd get homesick until about year 10 tho ... but by highschool could manage it well.

I think he'll give you a pretty good idea, if he's gungho maybe talk it thru to make sure the commitment to overcome inevitable homesickness is there, then I'd want to talk to the teachers to ensure they'd do what you'd want in that scenario. Anyone you could try a sleepover with?

To balance it out - I'm not too concerned about Audrey missing out because she mostly doesn't have that experience often, whereas I know Erik feels that he does, Audrey can probably do with a dose of it. So that'd be more of a sway for me in your shoes.

But I'd also try not to worry about social embarrassment too much if it doesn't go well ... it's not a given and it's worse case scenario so I wouldn't factor that in.

Another option : can Dave possibly go? I dare say they'll be wanting volunteers? Even if it's one night?

Jayne said...

Hmm I will face this next year, or possibly the one after as I have heard they do the 3/4 camp alternate years, and they did it this yr so I'm praying it'll be the year after LOL. Liam has been asked to plenty of sleepovers-he always refuses. I cant even get him out of my bed FFS! So I'm pretty sure if I asked him now, his answer would be a resounding no. Hopefully in a year or 2 it'll be yes. I really want him to go on school camp-you mention social confidence-I think *personally* missing out will make them feel like they have been left out of something special and compound any feelings of social rejection they might have. Not that L even appears to have that-his teacher assures me he's popular (why the hell isnt he invited to parties then!?) Ah that's MY isshew.

Um anyway back to your dilemma! If he goes, as you say Dave might have his license by then, and if it's only a 45 min drive then he could pick him up couldn't he? Is there something I'm missing? Of course if he doesn't have his license then you could explain to E that if he chooses to go he HAS to stay. Might not be a bad thing necessarily-like if he knows he haas no option but to be there he might just get on and enjoy it?

But I get your angst cos I am sure I'll be the same when the time comes!

katef said...

What do they do if they don't go?

I chose not to go on school camp in grade 6 (long trip to Canberra and I didn't cope well away from home over night though had done grade 5 camp and was ok) and the few of us who didn't go went to school as normal with a sub teacher and did fun stuff.. none of the boring parliament house projects the others were doing so the stigma of not going wasn't nearly so bad when the others got back and realised what we'd done.

That said... I second the suggestions of maybe seeing if there is a way to 'try before you buy' and stay over with someone? Or seeing if Dave can go as a volunteer?

hard stuff this parenting decision making!

Juniper said...

I have discussed this with you IRL, so will try not to rehash too much LOL! My main thoughts are...

a) if *he* wants to go, you should encourage him to go, and not feed any self doubts, but boost him up to feel confident that he can do it, and will probably love it.

b) IMO, it is really his choice, and I am not sure if you guys should be making the decision on his behalf, even if you do consult him (not that you are!) just saying, that I think that IMO he needs to take responsibility for the choice that he makes, and also so he can feel proud of himself for doing it if he wants to, or feel confident in his choice of *not* doing it if he doesn't yk? Like so he can't become *resentful* of you guys or blame you over the choice yk?

c) - I have yet to know of a child (through my experience with my kids and all they know at school) who has not enjoyed camp - though I am sure there must be one or two. Even the families I know who really struggled with worrying if it would go okay (nervous homesick kids *and* parents) had such a wonderful time.

d) My DD was nervous, and also had some homesickness on her first night of camp in grade 3, but she had the time of her life, and gained confidence and maturity and I am soooo glad I didn't almost take that experience away from her

e) I agree, there are usually parent volunteers who go on these camps (at least 3 in our school, one of which usually has first aid qualifications) so D could volunteer, but when I made the suggestion that DH or I could volunteer to go with my kids when they went on camp, both totally freaked out and said "no way!" LOL!

In closing (LOL!), IMO, camp is a "rite of passage", that kids can gain soooo much out of, even disabled kids, emotionally disturbed kids, scared kids, ADHD kids, bed wetting kids etc.. etc... Each child has unique needs, and you have the opportunity as a parent to let the teacher/camp leader know your concerns.

I am not saying this from the experience of having only had happy times at camp personally, on the contrary, I have had many ups and downs as a child, but my memories of camp are some of my strongest of childhood, and I would hate to take the opportunity of those memories from my children before they even had the chance to be created yk?

Sigh... why isn't parenting easier? I find it just gets harder and harder as they get older LOL! Main thing I wanted to say was ((hugs)) - but I got carried away LOL!

Sif Dal said...

Dave and i had a talk about it after he'd talked to Erik's teacher as well as one other 3/4 teacher who is about D's age, and whom we like a lot. About 90% of the students are going. There aren't any parents going. The teachers said the days are fairly tightly scheduled, so not too much time for being at a loosely end.

Erik is pretty keen to go and our biggest concern is with his sense of security. Dave got the sense he'd be jollied along if he started to feel homesick.

My personal biggest pro about him going (besides his own enthusiam at this point) is that at this point in his development, i feel he needs to feel differeniated from Luey as older and more mature. If we were to hold him back from camp this year then it would be yet another thing he'd have had to wait for Luey to do with him, and they are not twins - he is older...

Sif Dal said...

Just reread the responses to this blog to Dave, and there were a couple of things I wanted to address...

Just regarding making Erik responsible for the decision and thereby responsible for the outcome. I have to say I disagree with the sentiment of not wanting him to resent me in the future for not letting him go, or conversely blaming me if he goes and it turns out badly for him. Dave and I are NOT AT ALL worried about shouldering his resentment or blame in those situations. He's 10, and so while he can well make a lot of decisions for himself, he cannot see around corners, that is what he has us for, and if our decisions don't sit well with him in the end, we're more than willing to wear that because as his parents it's our responsibility to see around those corners for him until he is able to do so himself.

When an apprentice is learning a trade, the apprentice is shown how things work, then given supervised opportunities to try things for themselves, and when those supervised opportunities work out well, they're give independant opportunities to try things for themselves, but even those independant opportunities are at the discretion of the mentor and the mentor takes full responsibility for making those discretionary judges and bearing the weight of the outcome as well.

We will be trusting Erik with the decision about whether to go or not, but if it doesn't work out, we will also shoulder some of the responsibility for having made the decision to leave it up to him. We're completely ok with him feeling we might have made the wrong decision about leaving it up to him. We're not abdicating our responsibility by letting him decide if he feels he's up to it or not, because he CAN'T see around corners, and he has NO yardstick by which to measure if he'll cope or not, and honestly if we didn't feel he would, we would NOT be letting him go.

The other thing is. Not letting him go on this trip is not the same as NEVER letting him go. This isn't do or die. If we decided he's not up to it this year, it's not going to screw his confidence up for life, there is always next year.

I think too many parents put too much pressure on themselves to get it right, and get it right the first time, rather than trust their gut instinct about their own child - as opposed to how every other child seems to have managed any discrete situation. School camp may be a rite of passage of sorts, but there is not age limit on it, and it's only one of many, many rites of passage. Some would have said starting school at 5 is a rite of passage, and Erik didn't start until he was 7.5, but I have not for one second regretted waiting until I felt he was ready (when he asked to go to school), and it has worked out really well for him...

So, yes, he'll probably go because he wants to go and because it seems (at this point) that it might go a long way to further his social confidence, but not because we're afraid he'll resent us if we decide he shouldn't go, or because it's now or never, or because everyone else's kid coped therefore he *should* too...

LOL, this response may seem to have come out of left field, but it comes from my strong sense of my role as a parent being to mentor my child, prepare him for adulthood, which also means making decisions based on my understanding of him, not based on whether or not he'll like those decisions or what other parents do or other kids do or get, yk?

Sometimes I feel like a lot of parents are afraid of their kids not liking them and that becomes the rudder for their parenting choices, but I don't believe my kids will hate me for making unpopular decision as long as they're made with loving respect of them as people.

Juniper said...

Oh I agree with you 100%, my job is not to be my child's friend, but to be their parent. I am often unpopular in the decisions I make on behalf of the children, but unfortunately, that is my job.

I want my kids to have the chance to do things to help them move forward in their independence and help them improve their self esteem, and in *my* experience, camp helps that, but that is in *my* experience with *my* kids. I totally agree with you that each child may come to that stage at a different time, and that of course it is our duty as parents to make those choices on our kids behalf if there is any doubt.

Good Job!