Therapyology heads to Camp Walden this Summer 2021!
From “Capture the Camp,” to punch and cookies and friendship bracelet making… For many kids, summer is about spending it at camp.
My Summer Camp Experience
Those who know me know that camp holds a very special place in my heart. From the age of eight years old, I started spending my summers at overnight camp; ten of those summers were spent as a camper, then a counselor, at Camp Walden in Cheboygan, Michigan.
Now, 18 years later, I’m thrilled to officially announce that I will be returning this summer to Camp Walden as the Camp Social Worker; providing essential social and emotional support for all campers AND counselors.
These past few weeks I’ve explored how my teen clients feel about returning to camp this summer and I am met with responses of conflicting emotions; “I’m excited, but I’m also really anxious” they’d express. Frankly, we’re all feeling that way – both kids AND parents too!
Yes, Camp IS Happening This Summer!
While many kids and teens have been anxious while awaiting their return to camp this summer, one thing we know for sure is that it won’t look the same. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic with some travel restrictions still in place. That brings increased anxiety and fear about what summer camp will look like. Will we have to wear masks? Will we have to social distance and quarantine? Can we still go on camping trips? These questions and more have kids anxious about their return to camp.
Though we can’t predict the future, camp owners and directors around the country are diligently planning for a safe (and FUN) summer at camp. I can confidently say (insider scoop) that it is every camp directors’ mission to provide a sense of normalcy to kids and teens after an incredibly challenging year.
The Psychological Impact of the Pandemic
When I first read the New York Times article on “languishing” by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, Ph.D., it was an “aha” moment. Over the last year as a child/teen therapist my sessions were filled with questions and statements of “why am I feeling so ‘blah’?” and “ugh, I am not motivated to do schoolwork or play sports!” Grant’s article described languishing as the “neglected middle child” of mental health: “As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul COVID, many people are struggling with the emotional long-haul of the pandemic,” Grant writes. “It hit some of us unprepared as the intense fear and grief of last year faded.”
A year and a half since the start of the pandemic and the feeling of “languish” is universal to many of us. With long waitlists from colleagues and mental health professionals around the country, especially those who work with kids and teens, we are feeling the pressure and effects of the mental health crisis that we are currently in. “COVID was like gasoline poured on an already raging fire” as depression rates have since tripled. And, for the 12 months before last June, fatal overdoses increased by almost 20 percent to a record high of 81,000. We are seeing Covid case numbers decrease and restrictions start to loosen. Yet, the true cost of this pandemic will be the imminent effects of the decline in mental health. Especially amongst our most vulnerable demographic: youth.
With That Said: Who’s Ready to go to Summer Camp?! ; )
After an incredibly challenging year of virtual learning, Zoom fatigue, and social isolation for so many kids and teens, there is no better place to be to “get away” and have a much-needed mental break than at camp. From my 15 years of training, experience, and education in child development, I can personally and professionally say that camp is where a kid goes to find themselves. For many, it’s where they have their “first” experiences: first friendships, first loves, first time sleeping away from home.
It was the “first” place where I felt comfort and peace after my father passed away when I was a teen.
With all the “firsts” kids experience at camp, it’s no wonder that it becomes a second home, away from home. What you learn at camp you don’t learn in school, such as developing important life skills and building confidence. Something over the last year many kids have been struggling with. After a year and a half of social isolation from their peers at school, promoting real IN-PERSON friendships at camp can build self-esteem and confidence in kids.
PSA For Parents:
PSA to the parents: Sending your child off to camp fosters the importance of “letting go.” As a camper, I remember being incredibly homesick. I would write letters home to my parents BEGGING them to pick me up, only to receive letters back saying, “You’ll be okay, trust us.” At the time it felt like an eternity, but they were right, I was okay. I learned how to self-soothe when I was feeling lonely and homesick and make new friends that, to this day, I still consider some of my best friends. Jessica Grose wrote in her article, “Kids can be ‘Homesick and Happy’ at Camp”, that we need to “normalize homesickness and pandemic changes” so that we foster growth and character development.
What Your Child Can Expect from Summer Camp
Last summer, as a result of camps being shut down due to quarantine, we launched Camp Therapyology: Where Camp Meets Mental Health, to give kids and teens an opportunity for (safe) social connections and to provide them a platform to discuss what’s going on in their lives.
Whether it’s overnight camp or day camp, the benefits of a summer spent disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with new friends and nature are endless. Camp Therapyology was developed to:
- Promote independence and autonomy
- Allow time for PLAY and FUN
- Learn teamwork and leadership skills
- Build resilience
- Take a break from technology and social media
- Promote a connection to nature and the outdoors
- Support a healthy living lifestyle: encourage physical activity
- Build friendships and make new social connections
- Learn healthy coping skills to manage anxiety
- Demonstrate respect for others, differences, and inclusivity
Therapyology’s mission is to “empower the next generation” and there’s nowhere else we’d rather do that than outdoors at camp! We’re excited to bring Camp Therapyology to Camp Walden Michigan this summer, in addition to our local West Bloomfield location, and coming soon… the Bay Area in California!!!
Thank you to Liz Stevens and Scott for giving me the opportunity to return to my second home, Camp Walden, and to be there doing what I’m passionate about… changing kids’ lives!
Learn more about summer camp with Therapyology!
Our West Bloomfield, MI-based practice would love to have you join us for a summer of discovery, fun, and connection! If you think your teen could benefit from therapy, a caring therapist would be honored to provide support! To start therapy, follow these simple steps:
Other Services Offered at Therapyology
Camp Therapyology isn’t the only service offered at our West Bloomfield, MI-based therapy practice. Other mental health services Therapyology provides include grief counseling, therapy for children, the Rainbow Group, therapy for teens, groups, and workshops, therapy for children of divorce, and Camp Therapyology.