Managing Expectations

It's January which means...time to figure out summer camp for grade-school kids.  Insane, but true. Camps are broadcasting their dates and enrollment has begun. While our eldest will have 3.5 weeks of sleepaway, for the first time, we still have 12 weeks of summer to program for the boys - 8.5 for the eldest and 12 full for the younger. And I decided to helicopter parent for an hour to determine if a new camp would fit my younger son.  Call it a temporary hover...or managing expectations.

I loved camp.  The variety of activities and the new friendships I made over the course of a summer were invaluable.  One week camp sessions, while terrific for getting better at an activity, really don't foster the friendships that longer camp sessions do.

Camps have reasonable expectations of children - they will all have different skills and they need to learn sportsmanship and teamwork. The problems arise if you have a child with unique capabilities or needs. Parents of children with needs learn to balance the need to advocate for their child with the need of their child to learn to fit in. I have a child with exceptional athleticism and this year I decided to take a page from the needs book and called a new camp director to talk about the fit for my son with the camp.

After 45 minutes, we both think it will work.  Both of us took on action items. Home team (that's us) will need to prepare Taylor for what's expected at camp, the routine at camp and what will happen when he has to take a break from a game.  Camp team is going to put him in situations where his athleticism will be challenged and the games will be more intense by playing him a "year up".  Ultimately we'll stop doing that - but it seems like a good start for the summer.  He'll have to fend for himself and make it work - but the two teams supporting him think it'll be a great summer. I hope he makes some friends there too.

How do you strike a balance between ensuring your child gets what they need to succeed and not paving the road and making it too easy so they don't learn to fend for themselves and adapt?