You may call and/or email the Director, staff, or your son’s counselor at any time if you have a concern of any sort. Phone calls /emails with campers are not allowed except under extraordinary circumstances. Please remember that just as camp is for boys to gain confidence and other essential life skills by being away from home, camp is also a time for parents to experience not always knowing who, what, where, when, and why, i.e. to practice the necessary art of “letting go.” This is an essential component to your son’s successful journey towards independence. If you have a concern about your son’s health call us! If you’re curious as to what activities he’s taking this week, wait for his letter to arrive! We promise, of course, to be in touch with individual parents at any point should there be challenges or concerns to discuss.
Campers are required to write home every Sunday, but may write home more often as time allows. Each camper has his own mailbox, or will share one with his brother(s). While our counselors provide guidance, you might want to work with your son ahead of time on how to properly address an envelope, or consider sending pre-addressed and stamped envelopes.
Though you hope for frequent letters, please don’t ask/require your child to write you every day, as this pressure might lead to his feeling he must forgo spontaneous activities or skip optional opportunities that are part of the rich camp experience. Instead, let him know you’ll look forward to his weekly letters and encourage him to take advantage of all that is going on at camp. You, on the other hand, are encouraged to write your son frequently! See Contact for the best address for mailing packages for mailing and letters. (Be sure to read our Package Policy, below).
Parents at Home Receive…
When camp is in session, our goal is to utilize technology to support our mission and not to tether parents to their son’s Pemi experience. Now is a good time for you to be patient, to consider the benefits of healthy separation for both you and your son, and know that we will be in touch with you immediately if anything is amiss physically or emotionally. That being said, in addition to the letters you receive from your son (with or without the details you crave!), parents can count on the following:
- A postcard from your son’s counselor within the first week of camp with a brief introduction
- A phone call to parents of new campers a week or so into camp with an update
- Blast emails
- Weekly newsletters and other articles posted on the Pemi Blog (be sure to subscribe!)
- Facebook updates (for those who use FB, be sure to “LIKE” our page to receive ongoing updates in your newsfeed)
- Twitter updates (for those who use Twitter, follow us @camppemi)
- Photos, posted twice a week on Thursdays and Sundays, accessed through your online account. We know that you ache to catch a glimpse of your son in the photos, but please note that photos are intended to provide a sense of all that goes on at camp, and we cannot guarantee that your son will be featured beyond the cabin photos taken each session.
- Final Letters / Reports. Your son’s counselor prepares this detailed review of your son’s experience.
Parents of Full Session campers receive a mid-season and final letter/report for their son.
Parents of First and Second Session boys receive a final letter/report within about 10 days after the session.
Please share this information with other family members and friends! Packages are limited to flat-envelope style, no more than one per week. Preferably, packages should contain reading/writing/art materials that can be enjoyed during rest hour and not silly games or toys or “stuff-just-because” that will take your son away from exploring what camp has to offer. No food of any kind is allowed. Thank you for honoring this rule and setting a good example for your son and his cabinmates. A handwritten letter means more than stuff! When a boy receives a package, a notice is placed in his mailbox. He brings the notice to the office to get his package and will open it in the presence of an office staff member. This procedure enables us to manage trash, label items if needed, and monitor our no-food policy. We understand that sometimes a bulky item is forgotten at home and requires a larger package. See Contact for the best address for mailing packages for mailing and letters.
Tips: Especially for New Camp Parents
The CampMinder / Camp-in-Touch photo system allows you to purchase prints, posters, etc. and/or to download hi-res images, all at very reasonable cost. You can create guest accounts from your online account for grandparents, friends etc. so that they can view summer photos. Following the season, be sure to sit down with your son and look at the photos together. He will not have seen them, and they are sure to elicit stories, impressions, and details that you might otherwise not hear.
Advice for letter-writing: please don’t provide rich and vivid detail of all the fun trips and activities you are participating in while your son is at camp, and please don’t tell your son how sad you or your pets are without him. This understandably makes it hard for him to connect productively with camp life. Give a sweeping update on what you’re up to; keep the focus on his camp experience and ask him questions about life at Pemi: “What occupations are you taking? What do you do in the evenings? What do you eat for breakfast?” Once you receive a letter from him, base your next letter on what he’s written. “You said your hike was great. Did you sleep in a tent? Did you cook your own food?” This back-and-forth is excellent training for your boys in learning how to communicate, and eventually will lead to the detailed letters that you crave (not to mention providing great fodder for his future biographers!). Should your son mention homesickness, an issue with another camper, or perhaps that he didn’t get an activity that he’d hoped for, remember that he wrote this several days before and chances are the situation is resolved and he’s moved on. Certainly call or email us if you are concerned, but the letter you write back is the perfect time to help him build his independence skills by asking questions such as, “What action did you take to solve that? Who did you talk with?” Learning how to respond to challenge when away from home, including identifying the appropriate person to turn to, is a powerful, lifelong skill to acquire and is one of the greatest outcomes of the camp experience.
Important Topics To Discuss Before Camp
Please read: The Other Duffle Bag—Talking With Your Child about Their First Time at Camp by Bob Ditter, a child and family therapist from Boston, Mass, who works extensively with people who work with children.
More on Homesickness, aka Home-missing
It is natural for parents and boys to worry about the possibility of homesickness, particularly prior to a boy’s first season at camp. Our staff spends significant time during pre-season learning strategies that encourage and support campers of all ages to develop their own personal resources to manage this common condition. A large percentage of our campers, including many veterans and older boys, will experience symptoms of home-missing to some degree during the early days of camp. This is a natural reaction to separation from home and should be expected. In almost every instance, these feelings depart within a very short time (although not always before the first letter home has been composed!), aided by a busy schedule, the knowledge that homesickness is something we have all felt, and the self-management skills that are gained by going through the process.
Parents can help this adjustment be a quick one in several ways.
- Please do not tell your son that if he is homesick or does not like camp he may leave. Thus armed, a boy who is experiencing temporary and expected discomfort will have a much more difficult adjustment. It is important that your son know that except in the instance of injury or serious illness, he will remain at camp for the duration of his planned stay. Please do not tell your son that he may call home. Through many years of experience, we have learned that speaking with parents never helps alleviate homesickness. It seems counter-intuitive, but by telling a boy that he can call home or leave camp if he’s feeling sad, parents convey doubt in his ability to succeed, doubt in his ability to work with others, and doubt in the camp experience. Instead, it is in your son’s best interests for you to say that he might feel nervous but that you believe in him and know he can do it. Hearing that his parents believe in him sets a boy up for success!
- Rather than reassure your son that he will probably not be homesick, acknowledge that this may well happen, is common, and learning how to handle it will prepare him for adventures that lie ahead. Describe homesickness as being like a headache; it’s unpleasant, short in duration, and rarely disabling.
- Remind him that he will not be the only camper feeling homesick, and that counselors and campers will be there to help him.
- Minimize your descriptions of how much you will miss your son, true though these may be.
- Remind yourself that your son will be greatly empowered if you allow him to overcome his homesickness. Remember, he’s in a setting designed to support him through this rite-of-passage, and perhaps more importantly, surrounded by trained staff who will guide him through developing his own skills that he can call upon in the future. As one parent said, “Better to learn at age 9 than at 19!”
- If you or your son has concerns about homesickness, please contact us.