I mentioned earlier that Michael has really enjoyed his first summer at a day camp. Everyone felt he was ready for the challenge, with behavioral supports still in place of course, and I’m so relieved and proud that they were right.
The camp he went to was at a Christian daycare, and the theme this summer was Parable-lympics. Each week they learned about a different parable from the Bible and also learned about a different sport from the Olympics. Also, each classroom represented a different country.
Michael’s room did Australia, which was cool since his uncle is from there. They decorated T-shirts with things they learned about the country and then wore those each week to their outings to the local movie theater to see the free kids showings. They also got a camp shirt, which they wore on their weekly field trips.
The biggest challenge we had at the beginning was Michael becoming obsessed over the paper medals they were handing out as positive behavior reinforcers. At the end of each week, the kids could trade in their paper medals for a gold, silver, or bronze plastic medal.
The rewards were too random for him, and he was constantly worrying about how many he was getting and whether he would earn a medal for the week. The camp staff was very good about working with us and allowing the TSS to give Michael to earn the rewards separately based on following the rules for a certain period of time, like he does at school.
Michael wanted to buy a package of the plastic medals for himself, but none of us thought that was a great idea, so he contented himself with pulling out every medal and ribbon he could find in his treasure boxes – he has quite the collection as you can see!
I haven’t heard much about the medals from camp in the last couple of weeks, so I’m not sure if they even kept up the medals throughout the summer and I didn’t ask him because I didn’t want to stir anything up where it’s not necessary.
Besides the movies and field trips, they also went to the pool twice a week, and Michael has become more and more comfortable in the water, even swimming underwater with goggles on.
He had one minor incident doing some sort of flip that crashed him into another child and rammed Michael’s goggles into his face hard enough to give him a black eye, but it healed much quicker than a real one would have so all was well. (The other kid wasn’t hurt at all, thankfully!)
I guess when you grow an inch and three-quarters in four months, you have some adjusting to do. (Can you believe it – at 10 years old, Michael is only three inches shorter than me?)
Today was pajama day. Although I’m not sure what that has to do with either parables or the Olympics, I let him wear one of the pairs we just got for the fall. When we had to go out later this evening, he didn’t want to change into regular clothes, reminding me that it was pajama day, after all. I don’t think anyone at the grocery store even noticed, actually.
So now we’re down to just a few days left at camp, and then the new school year begins. I have no idea what fourth grade will bring, but I know we will get through whatever comes our way. Right now that means working to manage the anxiety levels for both of us as the start of school approaches and trying to make sure all the pieces fall into place so he has what he needs to get through the first day.
So here’s my question to all of you – Are there any wise words you would like to share with me on navigating the transition from a successful, fun summer to a scary new school year? I would be glad to hear what has worked for you.