March 2020 to March 2021, what a year for all of us! The collective stress, uncertainty and hardship has been heavy, especially for those of us who have young, developing humans in our care.
Empirical data on the long-term physical and mental health implications of the pandemic is still to come, yet as parents, the data of our experience is already out. Our children have dealt with all the pandemic has brought in real time.
A Toll on Young Lives
Virtual school, canceled dance recitals and youth sporting events, long stints of separation from grandparents and other important figures in their lives, and a constant stream of news and information about an unprecedented event in not only their young lives but also the lives of their parents continues to take its toll.
Let’s be honest; as adults, the whole thing has been emotionally and cognitively exhausting, and our children have been working this out with their own set of fears, disappointments and struggles.
Witnessing the Strain
As a therapist, a behavioral health executive, a summer camp enthusiast and a mother of five, I have witnessed this strain first-hand. My husband Chris and I have walked this personally. We have launched our oldest daughter to Texas A&M, have navigated the no school, virtual school, in-person school dance with a few quarantine stints sprinkled in with our two daughters in high school, one son in middle school and youngest son in elementary.
Professionally, I have seen the children and adolescents that I support therapeutically in my behavioral health work navigate these same disruptive patterns to the very things that have traditionally brought the structure and support and rhythm that is important to the development of children and families.
Why Summer Camp?
In the best of times, summer camp can be an amazing developmental and fantastically fun experience for kids. In this season of transition, the independence, adventure, friendship and connection to the great outdoors that summer camp brings is more important than ever. Summer camp can naturally create independence, can aid in a camper’s development of a positive, healthy self-esteem and a positive sense of self-worth. Camp can help kids develop a healthy self-image and a feeling of being “valuable” to others.
Development and Fun Combined
From horseback riding to waterslides to high ropes and zip lines, summer camp is full of adventure. Self-confidence and a sense of feeling positive about what you do flows from knowing you can continue to build skills and overcome a fear of failure. An opportunity for adventure can build the courage to try, to participate without regard to the potential, and to give maximum effort. Summer camp is made to create friendship.
Face-To-Face Friendship + Connection
Often texting and social media are ways young people connect today. Camp gives kids a chance to be screen free and enjoy their friends in the camp environment by doing art, playing games, having meals and enjoying activities together. Camp provides a chance for face-to-face friendship in a setting focused on fun and outdoor adventure! An independent, adventurous, connected child is an empowered child. Self-reliance, problem-solving and confidence contribute to health and well-being.
A Safe Environment to Grow
At Camp OTX, this growth can happen in simple things like allowing a camper to set their own course during Stampede, which is basically two and a half hours of structured free time where every activity in our beautiful facility is open. Imagine recess with a pool, water-front, blobs, inflatable obstacle course, water slides, mini golf, archery and riflery ranges, a horse program, mountain bikes, a gymnastic center, a crafts center and so much more.
Providing safe environments for kids to grow and try new things is more important than ever.
Cover photo courtesy Camp OTX
Ceci Hudson Torn works currently as the CEO of Ethos Wellness. Hudson Torn received her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health from Wake Forest University and is currently pursuing a doctorate from The University of Southern California. As the Camp OTX Director of Camper Care, she is excited to support her husband, Chris, as he directs the camp. A residential summer camp for kids ages 6 to 14 in the Texas Hill Country, Camp OTX has been developed by the Torn family, owners of Camp Ozark.
This article is a sponsored collaboration with Camp OTX