Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow

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Overview

An insightful and powerful look at the magic of summer camp—and why it is so important for children to be away from home . . . if only for a little while.
 
In an age when it’s the rare child who walks to school on his own, the thought of sending your “little ones” off to sleep-away camp can be overwhelming—for you and for them. But parents’ first instinct—to shelter their offspring above all else—is ...

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Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow

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Overview

An insightful and powerful look at the magic of summer camp—and why it is so important for children to be away from home . . . if only for a little while.
 
In an age when it’s the rare child who walks to school on his own, the thought of sending your “little ones” off to sleep-away camp can be overwhelming—for you and for them. But parents’ first instinct—to shelter their offspring above all else—is actually depriving kids of the major developmental milestones that occur through letting them go—and watching them come back transformed.
 
In Homesick and Happy, renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, shares a strong argument for, and a vital guide to, this brief loosening of ties. A great champion of summer camp, he explains how camp ushers your children into a thrilling world offering an environment that most of us at home cannot: an electronics-free zone, a multigenerational community, meaningful daily rituals like group meals and cabin clean-up, and a place where time simply slows down. In the buggy woods, icy swims, campfire sing-alongs, and daring adventures, children have emotionally significant and character-building experiences; they often grow in ways that surprise even themselves; they make lifelong memories and cherished friends. Thompson shows how children who are away from their parents can be both homesick and happy, scared and successful, anxious and exuberant. When kids go to camp—for a week, a month, or the whole summer—they can experience some of the greatest maturation of their lives, and return more independent, strong, and healthy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Every parent dreads letting children go. Partly, we dread it because we lack a clear roadmap of how and when to do it. Homesick and Happy changes that. It is a powerful and very accessible book that helps build maturity and resilience in our children—and also in parents, as well!”—Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and The Wonder of Girls
 
“With a deep understanding, a great sense of humor, and impeccable resources, Michael Thompson succeeds brilliantly in generating just a touch of envy in the hearts of all those parents who read Homesick and Happy . . . for the great fun their kids are going to have.”—Harriet Lowe, editor in chief, Camping magazine
 
“Thompson pours his heart into these pages, along with his unsurpassed wisdom about children and their parents. Full of practical advice and unforgettable anecdotes, this book is an instant classic.”—Edward Hallowell, MD, author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness
 
“With his usual compassion and warmth, Thompson helps parents let go of the imagined dangers that feed our anxieties, and avoid the real dangers of holding on to our children too tightly.”—Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, author of Playful Parenting
 
“Michael Thompson is back with a compelling argument for the brawn and bonds that only camp can give a child. You’ll be signing her up before you make it through the first chapter.”—Rachel Simmons, former director of Girls Leadership Institute Summer Camp and author of The Curse of the Good Girl
Kirkus Reviews
Child psychologist and school consultant Thompson (It's a Boy!: Understanding Your Son's Development from Birth to Age 18, 2008, etc.) discusses the role summer camps can play in providing a safe environment for a child's growth toward independence. The author suggests that the tendency of parents to micromanage their children's lives is counterproductive. "The impulse to protect all of your child's feelings is completely natural," he writes. "The problem is that the ideal is unachievable, even undesirable." He emphasizes that "the goal of childhood is to grow up" and "almost all adolescents want full independence from adults." In his opinion--based on his own childhood experiences at camp and his work as a consultant and former board member of the American Camp Association--summer camps offer a supervised, safe experience for children to deal with separation issues and homesickness, and parents to deal with their own separation anxieties. "[C]amp is a psychological experience" where a child can meet new people, face new challenges and learn the rules of a new community while discovering things about themselves that could never have been learned staying at home with mom and dad. As part of his research, the author visited 19 camps and interviewed campers, counselors and their parents. Thompson describes the wide variety of experiences they offer--sports, nature, pursuit of the arts--and gives examples of camps devoted to special-needs children. He emphasizes the stability, happiness and trust provided by these structured environments. A useful guide for parents.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345524928
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 286,970
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Thompson, PhD, is the author or co-author of eight books, including the bestselling Raising Cain. A consulting school psychologist and popular school speaker, he is also a former board member of the American Camp Association. The father of two, he lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A New York City Boy Goes Back to Camp xiii

1 Off They Go 3

2 A Lost World of Family Time 35

3 A Fire in My Stomach 62

4 Homesick and Happy 86

5 A Little Paradise 107

6 OMG, I Love You! 130

7 Passages 154

8 "I Wish You Luck in Being Yourselves" 180

9 The Magic of Camp 198

10 "Childsick" and Happy 238

Acknowledgments 253

Notes 257

Bibliography 267

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2012

    Give Them Roots, Then Give Them Wings

    Parents should not hesitate to send their kids to camp. Kids are tougher than one might think, and camp prepares them for life.
    Homesickness hurts, but does no lasting damage. It is evidence of a loving home left behind that is appreciated all the more upon the camper's return. Camp is fun!
    Concerned parents should read this book. It rings true for me, capturing my experience as both a camper (4 years) and a camp counselor (5 years).

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