| A Better You |

Get Your Kid Camp-Ready

Your child will be going to sleepaway camp for the first time. How can you prepare him/her?

Get Your Kid Camp-Ready

Zipora Schuck, MA, MS

Find someone who has been there before who can share “the hidden curriculum” of this specific camp with them. For example: who’s who among the staff, what each of the buildings are called and used for, a visual map, a sample day, and any specific expectations — in clothing, accessories, sports equipment, canteen money needed, etc.

Find someone who’s attending the same camp and can be a big brother/big sister to your child, checking in with them every now and then.

Have a code word that they can use on a phone call to you if something or someone is really bothering them, and they feel they can’t talk while on line with many other campers. Once you hear that code word, you’ll call the office and schedule a time to speak with your child privately.

Prepare them early on with any relevant information that may be needed — personal safety, development and hygiene, general social skills to live with other people 24/7. Having delicate conversations the night before or even the week before isn't early enough.

Think of what-ifs that may come up — homesickness, friend troubles, fears, etc. — talk through the scenarios, and brainstorm several sample solutions. This way, if one of them should arise, your child will already have options. Some parents even write down the solutions and refer to them as go-to cards that the child can keep in a hidden place and refer back to if needed.

If your child takes any medicine — allergies, ADHD, Dramamine on major trip days, please be in touch with the camp nurse prior and let your child know when and how they’ll be getting their dosage. Don’t leave these arrangements for your child to navigate in a new setting.

Mail a letter a few days before they get there, so it will arrive close to the time they do and be waiting for them.

Pack away some hidden notes in their suitcase, so when unpacking, or reaching for something in a bin, they get a love note/virtual hug from home.

If your child has any specific needs — bed-wetting, separation anxiety, dietary or physical restrictions, or will need more than the typical amount of assistance from their counselor — consider tipping the counselor or JC in advance. Give it through the head staff with a little note thanking them ahead of time for the extra effort they will be putting into your child.

Know that while sleepaway camp isn’t a necessity, it’s a wonderful time for enjoyment, socialization, and growth. Appreciate the opportunity your child will be having.


Zipora Schuck, MA, MS, is a New York state school psychologist and educational consultant for many schools in the New York–New Jersey area. She works with students, teachers, principals, and parents to help children be successful.


What’s Right vs. Who's Right

Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW

"Discussions are always better than arguments, because an argument is to find out who is right, and a discussion is to find out what’s right.”

So much wisdom is contained in this thought. How often have we watched two people, two neighbors, two friends, two family members go around and around in circles, debating the same thing endlessly, coming to no conclusion, neither convincing the other?

Because it’s not about the debate. It’s about being heard. It’s about my need to have my views validated so I can feel good about them — and about myself.

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” Removing our ego opens us to the possibility of exploring new ideas, of expanding our hearts and minds, and of connecting to each other, even as we disagree.

Once we move into arguing, we lose the exchange of thoughts, and with it, we lose the possibility for the emergence of something that’s greater than the sum of its parts as we converge two different mindsets and extract the best from each. When it becomes personal, it’s our indication that we’ve become small.

Truth often contains elements of contradictory information. Most heated debates remain hot because they each contain some element of truth. Loud music makes chasunahs more leibedig and it also disturbs people and damages their ears. Thoughtful discussion between open parties might lead to some workable plan that integrates both truths. Finger-pointing, blaming, and name-calling never does.


Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed therapist, Directed Dating coach and certified Core Mentor.


Don’t Tell All

Esther Goldstein, LCSW

You don’t have to share every detail of your life with your spouse or parent. You shouldn’t be sneaky, but full disclosure can be harmful. For example, if your friend made a comment about your husband not showing up to shul, in addition to being forbidden as rechilus, it would be wise not to blurt it out to your hubby, as it may throw him into a shame spiral.

If a close friend shares something with you in confidence, she trusts you won’t share with anyone else — and you need to honor that. If you can’t, then let her know that you may share with your husband, and ask what’s okay to share.


Esther Goldstein, LCSW, is an anxiety and trauma specialist who runs a group practice called Integrative Psychotherapy & Trauma Treatment, in the Five Towns, Long Island, New York. Esther also has a Trauma Training Program for therapists.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 791)

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