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 all the who, what, where, when, and why details of their son’s life, i.e. to practice the necessary art of “letting go.” This is an essential component to your son’s successful journey towards independence. Now is a good time for you to be patient, to consider the benefits of healthy separation for you and your son, and know that we will be in touch with you immediately if anything is amiss physically or emotionally!
Here’s what you can count on from Pemi
- For parents of new campers, a phone call the first week of camp with a detailed assessment of your son’s adjustment to camp.
- Weekly newsletters and other articles posted on the Pemi Blog
- Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram updates.
- Photos, posted twice a week, accessed through your online CampInTouch account or mobile Campanion App.
- Final Letters / Reports. Your son’s counselor prepares a detailed review of your son’s experience; Parents of Full Session boys receive a mid-season and final letter/report. Parents of First and Second Session boys receive a final letter/report within about 10 days after the session ends.
Pemi remains deeply committed to our screen-free environment during the summer, but we also recognize the benefits that technology can bring to you all while your sons are happily enjoying their time at camp. We encourage you to download the Campanion app (available from the Apple App Store and Google Play), enable push notifications, and utilize it this spring and summer to enhance the forms and photo processes!
The Campanion app will serve two main, seasonal functions:
- in the spring, it will make the forms process substantially easier and more digital-friendly, and
- in the summer, photo access will be streamlined for mobile viewing!
One aspect of Campanion that we’d like to draw special attention to is the FaceFinder feature. This facial recognition technology will let you upload a “training image” of your camper to the app, which will then be used to automatically search for images of your son when we post our photos twice per week. The use of FaceFinder is 100% optional and is left up to each individual family. If you choose to use FaceFinder, we recommend that you wait until right before the start of camp to upload the “training image” so that the system has the most up-to-date image of your camper.
While we have our reservations around facial recognition – centered around implicit biases in the technology, privacy and security issues for a relatively new but rapidly growing function, and the challenges that increased connection brings to helping both campers and parents “let go” during the summer – we also see the possible benefits. We trust each of our families to decide to use FaceFinder or not based on your own individual deliberations. All photos will also still be available via your CampInTouch account for desktop-friendly viewing!
In line with our philosophy around photos, we will continue with the same practices that we have been using for over two decades now – we will post roughly 150 photos twice per week that aim to give an overview of life at Pemi during that 3-4 day stretch. We can’t guarantee that every camper will be featured in every photo batch, and we believe that looking through all of the photos will provide you with a great overview of your camper’s time at Pemi.
As we roll out this new technology, we welcome any thoughts or questions that you might wish to share.
Phone Calls / Email
You may call and/or email the director at any time if you have a concern of any sort. Phone calls / emails with campers are not allowed except under extraordinary circumstances. Since campers write and mail a letter home every week, we ask that parents do the same, and model the thought and patience that a written letter requires.
Letter Writing: From Campers to Parents
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.
Please don’t ask/require your child to write to you every day, as this 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.
Letter Writing: From Parents to Campers
Write to your son frequently! (Find the address to use, here). Give a sweeping update on what you’re up to but keep the focus on his camp experience, not yours. Ask him questions about life at Pemi: “What activities are you taking? What do you do in the evenings?” Once you receive a letter from him, base your next letter on what he’s written. “Sounds like your hike was great! Did you sleep in a tent?” 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. 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. 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 did you do to solve that? Who did you talk with?” Learning how to respond to challenges 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.
Please share this information with family members and friends who might send something to your son:
Packages are limited to flat-envelope style, no more than one per week. (We understand that sometimes an item is forgotten and might require a larger package.)
They should contain reading/writing/art materials that can be enjoyed during rest hour, and not silly games or toys. Campers love letters more than “stuff-just-because.”
No food of any kind is allowed. Not even a stick of gum. Thank you for honoring this rule and for setting a good example for your son and his friends.
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 post photos dependably every Thursday and Sunday throughout the season. Our advice? Take advantage of the days when you know there won’t be photos to do all the things that this time apart allows.
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 within 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 his letters might not have conveyed.
We know that you ache to catch a glimpse of your son in the photos and we’ll do our best to feature as many boys as possible. Some boys simply prefer not to be frequently photographed during this time of independence and we honor that. Please note that our Thursday/Sunday photos are selected to provide a sense of all that goes on at camp and all that your son has at his fingertips now or when he’s older. Many parents have told us that seeing photos of boys of all ages immersed in wide-ranging activities helps them feel more connected to Pemi and gives them greater understanding and appreciation for their son’s camp experience, even when they don’t see a photo of their son. Count on seeing him with his cabin when we post “cabin photos” and consider all other shots of him a bonus!