Who doesn’t love summer camp?!?

Camp was a staple of my summer as a youth and I always looked forward to a spending a week at camp.  It was a place God showed up in significant ways and it always provided growth in my social/physical/spiritual life as a teen. There was one part of summer camp I always dreaded though…

It wasn’t the fear of going alone without a friend…

or being away from home…

or communal bathrooms…

It was the car ride home and the 20 questions I knew my mom was dying to pepper me with.

As soon as we started driving home, they would come flying at me…”How was this?  Who was that?  What was your favorite?  Did you remember this?  What did you learn?  Did I see you talking to that girl?”  I would answer one, maybe two and then shut down.  I didn’t have it in me and I didn’t know what to say in some cases.  It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about camp or share my experiences, I just wasn’t ready yet.

If you read this blog, you know that I love the folks over at Orange (www.orangeparents.org) and they have put together a camp conversation guide that I want to share with you.  It’s broken down into what to say NOW, what to say LATER, and what NOT to say.

What to say NOW:

The truth is your student may not be ready to talk a lot their first day back.  Do you best to keep it simple.  If they offer more and want to share, go for it, but don’t be offended if they don’t.  Ask a question or two and then let them be!

  1. What was one fun thing you did?
  2. What was the best part of your week?
  3. Who is one person you got to know better?

What to say LATER:

They may be more ready to chat after a day or two, but they still may not be able to put their experience into words.  They’re still processing – trying to figure out how to bring what they learned there back to their normal, everyday life.  Specific questions may help get better answers.

  1. What is one thing that surprised you about the week?
  2. What is one thing you learned about God, yourself, or others this week?
  3. Is there anything you decided to do differently because of what you experienced at camp?

What NOT to say:

Camp often feels sacred to a student.  It may be because they felt closer to God or maybe they became closer to friends and felt accepted.  Either way, your student will feel far less likely to talk if they feel you don’t understand or don’t approve.  Do you best to keep your tone positive.   Avoid these phrases:

  1. Did you learn anything this week?
  2. It sounds like all you guys did is goof off.
  3. You’re sure not acting like you learned anything.

Did I dread my mom’s 20 questions?  Yep.  That being said, I’m incredibly thankful she was engaged and willing to enter into my world.  I am thankful she cared enough to ask.  I’m thankful she wasn’t silent about the spiritual life and wanted to encourage my growth and development there.

So, don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be offended if they don’t share much.  They may not be ready yet, but you can always revisit a day or two later or even a few days later.  Hope this helps!