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First Sleepaway Camp Calls

It’s that time.

Second full week of summer camp, parent/child calls home.

You can’t wait, but how will it go?

Here’s some 20 year veteran tips:

  • organize your thoughts ahead
  • have a few questions planned to ask (key word, few). Most calls are quite short (5-10 minutes); don’t want to waste time
  • plan ahead who will talk vs. listen – time flies; younger siblings may want to talk, so help them contribute
  • sense trigger points – what might upset your child
  • focus on the positive; don’t dwell on things you are concerned about. Bringing things up from a child’s letter home could generate anxiety on the call
  • safer topics include camp-wide events, e.g. Olympics events, first trips out of camp, special entertainment and traditions, big sisters/brothers, favorite activities so far
  • let your child lead; follow his/her thoughts
  • do ask if they need anything, or want to share something in particular they want you to know (a good lead-in to see what is on their mind)
  • if he/she seems sad, bring up one of your safe discussion points and change the tone
  • if you are sad, contain it; do not share that you miss them, this can cause/stir up homesick feelings

Best thing is for your child to say, gotta go to my activity or the camp event. This means they are happy.

Should you have any post call concerns, email or call the camp. The director and senior staff will look into your concerns.

After the call? Plan an activity for yourself. But you will likely check in online with your friends to see how their calls went too!

Summer Camp First Letters Home

It’s that time of year. We get calls from anxious parents whose children (or teens) are sharing some homesickness or separation challenges. We console and normalize. The same holds true for campers’ first letters.

We love when parents share their first camper letters. I still cherish mine. Happiness, some sadness, new friends, counselor stories, the food is great, the food ‘stinks’, I ‘need this’, I ‘want this’, please send me…..

Please do NOT read into these (i.e. do not over analyze). Letters are written in moments of intense feelings. And those feelings go away typically as soon as the next activity occurs. Call the camp IF a pattern develops; not at the first letter. Senior staff will look into this; they want campers to succeed and be happy.

Save these letters! Create a special folder/container that withstands time. You will want to read these again and again. And your kids will get a kick out of them even when they return at the end of this summer. Don’t be surprised it they say something like, ‘oh yeah, I remember it was raining that day, and I was bored.’ Or, ‘I don’t remember writing that.’ You think, if only I knew then!

Share your stories with others; you will see you and your thoughts are not alone.

Now put the letters away, enough with the social media. Go connect with others and enjoy this long holiday weekend – in person.

Hard Work Pays Off! Teens Who Inspire Us

At Everything Summer, we love stories that inspire. Imagine our excitement when we saw not one, but two stories in the New York Times recently about savvy, hard-working teens who decided what they wanted and went for it.

As a high school junior, Megan Grassell was shopping for a first bra for her 13-year old sister, and she didn’t like what she saw. The choices for young girls and teenagers were “dominated by push-up styles with padding and underwire… ‘There shouldn’t be so much of a hurry to grow up so fast,’ she said.”

Ms. Grassell had come across a gap in the market, and rather than settle for less, she founded her own company, Yellowberry. Yellowberry designs simple, colorful, age-appropriate bras for young girls.

With no experience in sewing or prototype design, Grassell plunged ahead, researching fabrics and designs and using savings earned from summer jobs (yes!) to order materials and even hire a local seamstress. She was proactive; sought advice from local business leaders and received feedback on prototypes by creating informal focus groups among her younger sister’s friends.

Her hard work has been paying off. Her first batch of orders sold out within two months, and her recent crowdfunding campaign brought in almost $42,000. Click here to read her story!

Adam Faze, a junior at Loyola High School in Los Angeles, is making moves as well. Passionate about the film-making industry, Faze was disappointed in the lack of opportunities available at school. “I want to go to film school and work in the industry, but Loyola has nothing like that, which is weird because we’re right here in L.A….so instead of sitting around and sulking, I decided to do something.”

Faze decided to organize a film festival. And despite an unenthusiastic response from the school, he remained steadfast and worked hard to make it happen. He made cold calls and sent letters, even networked with previous school alumni and donors. The tipping point was when he landed a festival speaker: Producer Michael De Luca, of “The Social Network” fame.

The Loyola Film Festival took place on May 17th and featured 72 student films in four categories. Faze secured sponsors and donors such as Sony Creative Software, the Los Angeles County Museum, and Sag-AFTRA. Click here to read his story!

So our message: challenge yourself, and don’t be afraid to take chances. It’s a great way to learn and grow. And you can start this summer!

Parenting and Academic Achievement

“What should parents do? Set the stage and leave it.”

Last month, The New York Times published a fairly controversial op-ed entitled “Parental Involvement is Overrated.” Sociologists Angel Harris and Keith Robinson observed families of a variety of races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to determine what, exactly, improved their children’s test scores and secondary school grades. After several years of research, the sociologists present a surprising claim: parental involvement isn’t always the answer when it comes to academic achievement in their children.

According to their studies, Harris and Robinson note that some forms of parental involvement (volunteering for field trips, attending school events, actively helping with homework) often have no impact on test scores and grades. In fact, those forms of involvement sometimes even had a negative impact on school achievement. Instead, their research found that the most effective form of a parent’s involvement is valuing education highly and sharing that value with your children. They found that students who perform well in school are those whose families continually communicate that school is important and whose parents expect them to attend college.

Harris and Robinson suggest a move away from the “blanket message” that higher involvement means higher achievement. Instead, they encourage parents to find “specific, creative ways to communicate to the value of schooling, tailored to a child’s age.” This is an interesting and important notion, though it isn’t exactly “setting the stage and leaving it.” It’s important for children to understand that school is important, and oftentimes that message is communicated through a parent’s involvement. Whether it’s volunteering to chaperone a school trip, or sitting down to talk about college options, it’s important that we find our own ways to express—through actions and words—the importance of school to our children and teens.

Click here to read the article and see some responses from parents as well!

Landing a Summer Internship: Tips for Teens and College Students

Summer internships are exciting opportunities for students to discover themselves and gain valuable work experience. They can set you up for college and career exploration. The right internship can be an immersive experience that allows students the opportunity to explore a certain field, meet a network of professionals, strengthen communication skills, understand office life, and—hopefully—earn some spending money. Students should look for internships that are organized and that provide opportunities to partake in as many aspects of the business or opportunity as possible. It’s important to be in an environment where observation and learning are encouraged, along with hands-on experience, even when there are rote or administrative tasks to get done.

How to get the internship you want? Start early. Internships can be competitive and can fill up quickly. Be sure to research and start the process in advance so you don’t miss any important deadlines. Be proactive. Try to create your own opportunities at firms or organizations you admire. Employers like to see students who know what they want and who will work toward a goal. Make sure to ask questions, follow up with interviewers, and offer additional information or references so that companies can get a good sense of who you are. And be sure to leave on a positive note. After the internship ends, ask for a reference for yourself while memories of your experience there are fresh in their minds.

Didn’t get the internship? Learn from the experience. Ask your interviewer how you could have improved your chance of scoring the internship, or if you can get in touch next year. And if earning money is not a requirement, consider offering to be a shadow or volunteer your time for a short time; the actual experience could help you build contacts, grow your personal network, and provide a valuable experience for your future.

Originally published as a guest article for knowsymoms.com.

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