BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

KIDS, SUMMER IS CANCELLED !

June 18, 2020 Dana Lewis Season 1 Episode 12
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
KIDS, SUMMER IS CANCELLED !
Chapters
00:01:57
Camp White Pine/ Adam Kronick
00:15:57
Dr. Lindsey Cameron/ Psychologist Kent University
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
KIDS, SUMMER IS CANCELLED !
Jun 18, 2020 Season 1 Episode 12
Dana Lewis

Tens of thousands of summer camps are cancelled because of Covid19.   Millions of children have been locked in their homes for months.   No school.  Slim chances to socialize.  And these are critical years for young people to learn through play and adventure. How do children learn through adversity and being uncomfortable? And what happens when you take all that away? Join the host of Back Story Dana Lewis to talk about the summer of 2020 for parents and kids.

Summer camps and kids.   We take you to Camp White Pine in Ontario, Canada to talk to owner/camp director Adam Kronick.

And to Kent University, we interview  Dr. Lindsey Cameron who  is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Director of Education in the school of Psychology. 

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Tens of thousands of summer camps are cancelled because of Covid19.   Millions of children have been locked in their homes for months.   No school.  Slim chances to socialize.  And these are critical years for young people to learn through play and adventure. How do children learn through adversity and being uncomfortable? And what happens when you take all that away? Join the host of Back Story Dana Lewis to talk about the summer of 2020 for parents and kids.

Summer camps and kids.   We take you to Camp White Pine in Ontario, Canada to talk to owner/camp director Adam Kronick.

And to Kent University, we interview  Dr. Lindsey Cameron who  is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Director of Education in the school of Psychology. 

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

hi everyone. And welcome to another edition of backstory. I'm Dana Lewis for parents. Nothing is more important than the wellbeing of your kids. And I've got two of them, two boys, Daniel and Alex, and both went to summer sleepover camps. I was a camper than a counselor. I taught riding and did canoe trips and swam and made campfires and had a great time. Camps are amazing because that's where kids get to get some independence and some nature and freedom, and they get to get away from us. Camping is not as exclusive as you may think. There are 12,000 camps in the us alone, including 7,000 overnight camps and 5,000 day camps, roughly 7 million children in North America participate in some form of camp, sleep away, camp and day camp. So now it's 2020. The year of COVID-19 and camps are canceled. You could say that summer is canceled

Speaker 3:

for kids who love camp. The loss is not something you can put a statistic on. It's emotional, psychological for parents and kids. And it's part of being a child and an aspect of parenting I think is of huge benefit. And I want to talk about kids in summer and COVID-19 and who better to talk to about all of this than someone who was run a camp for decades, no letters home this year, it's stay at home.

Speaker 1:

Dear mom and dad, I was a little nervous getting off the bus, but then I met my cabin , dear mom and dad.

Speaker 3:

So let's hook up with my favorite camp in Ontario, Canada camp, white pine, about two hours North of Toronto, not only to talk camp, but most important. Uh , let's talk about kids and children and how they're feeling and effected by this pandemic. The camp director and owner is Adam chronic , and he joins me now , uh , North of Toronto, where the , where the wind is blowing gently through the pine trees. Don't tell me it's a rainstorm right now . I have the memory of a glassy Lake and a good smell of pine. Uh, and I want to be there.

Speaker 4:

Well today, the sun is shining. The Lake is glass and it could not be more beautiful. It is like a picture perfect day and we're enjoying it the best we can. Absolutely. It's exactly. As you remembered and imagine it , Dana, how long has your family hugged at camp? My father started the camp in 1956, 56. Yes. This would, this would , would be our 65th year of camping. And , uh , you know, he was a pioneer, of course, I know you don't remember him. And he , uh, he, along with a few other camps started in that timeframe , uh, in Ontario and in the Eastern seaboard of the States. And , uh , they were really pioneers. They, they started from scratch and , uh , they developed philosophies and, and lifestyles and ways of living that , uh , endure,

Speaker 3:

I should say, because you're referring to me now. I should say that I was a counselor there. I taught the writing program and I was, I was a camper when I was a kid. And I , um, I, I believe in getting kids out of cities and up into, up into pine forest and doing all sorts of things that we're going to talk about, but a camp white pine just , I think is just one of the best camps in the world, but there are 400,000 campers in Ontario. Is that right?

Speaker 4:

That's right. This is about 400,000 campers who go to overnight camps, accredited overnight camps in Ontario. And there are many, many different types of camps , uh , that has changed a lot in recent years. Uh, but , uh, it's a, it's an experience. It's a lifestyle that families , uh, becomes embedded in families , uh, cultures, you know, and it's been that way for decades

Speaker 3:

is [inaudible]

Speaker 4:

camps . Uh, yes, camps , uh, the premier of Ontario, Doug Ford announced camps, overnight camps are canceled , uh, in Ontario for this year , uh , day camps actually are allowed to open , uh , with , with a set of guidelines that have been put out by the chief medical officer of health. Uh, but overnight camps are canceled in Canada and in the United States, the only place I know of offhand, I'm not exactly sure about the accuracy, but the only place that camps may possibly open is Maine. Uh , most other States, Andrew Cuomo in New York announced the camp overnight camps are not opening the summer. Uh , so basically for the most part, camps are shut down. Yes.

Speaker 3:

Does that just break your heart this year?

Speaker 4:

You know, it's been an emotional roller rollercoaster for everybody. Uh it's uh, it's hard to put into words how, how we feel , uh, pardon me. I'm gonna make you do that. Oh , well, it's, it's, you know, I mean, as I said, if you're 65 years, our camp has been running and I've been here for 60 of them and it's , uh , it's , uh , it's, it's, it's almost surreal and unimaginable. Uh, I think, you know, obviously it was a gradual process coming to this, to this stage, so we weren't shocked, but so , uh , but we were still, we were still shocked to put it mildly , uh, to watch the impact of, I have a 27 year old son and a 24 year old daughter who were in work with me on camp as well with my wife. It's very much a family business to see the, on them was I was and the passion and I , it was, it was unbelievable. And then the biggest thing for myself, and I can say , I really can't speak for other camp directors because I know they've experienced the same thing to see the impact on our camper families and how much it means to them and how passionate these families are. I say that, you know, our kids, the kids that come to camp, it's almost like in their DNA, from birth , uh, their parents have talked to them about camp and they start going on days and weekends when they're young kids to see how emotional and how, how much , how hard it has hit them is really it's been heartbreaking, but, but also, you know, warmed our hearts and to see it and , and, you know, it's , it's, we realize they love it and it impacts their lives so much.

Speaker 3:

I mean, if you've never been to Kent , well , I mean, first of all, people who don't understand Kim culture, there are 6 million in the U S alone kids that go to camp. And , uh, so there are millions of children to do this. They do it in Europe as well, and Switzerland and other places. But , um , you know, people wait all year to see some of their camp friends that come up from all over the place from , from different countries and different places. And then if you have never been there for the last day of camp , uh, there, there are a lot of tears , uh , as people say goodbye again and wait for that next year.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely. You know, typically kids started at our camp and many camps. They start going to camp when they're about seven or eight years old. And they often go right through until they're on staff often for four or five, six or longer years. And so when they hit their 13th year at our camp, they , they get their lifetime achievement award. And every year we have, you know , we could have 10 to 15 people getting at people go forever. I mean, as I say, once they become staff, it's the best job we'll ever have.

Speaker 3:

Well, look, look at you Canberra . When I graduated from

Speaker 4:

grad school, my grandfather said to me, you have the best job of anybody in your graduating class until this year. He was probably right.

Speaker 3:

So financially I know you , you guys own your camp and I assume you're in good solid ground, but I mean, there are other camps that will struggle with this.

Speaker 4:

We all were all, we were all struggle. I mean, in our industry and the camping industry , uh, I have seen for day camps as well, but certainly we all have a lot of fixed costs, you know, all year long, we're building buildings, we're taking care of the site. We have office staff, we have maintenance staff , uh, and we have insurance. We have all sorts of fixed costs that are very, very high, a high portion of our costs. And for almost for two years, we running, running our operation without any income. So yeah, it's , it's, it's very financially challenging for many camps for all camps. And , um, you know, I think I hope and think most will make it through, but it's going to take years to recover. And , uh, and we're where we will be in a year or two, we know as well. So it is a very, is a very big challenge.

Speaker 3:

That's for sure. Look, I consider you, and this will re it'll get you to raise your eyebrows. Probably I consider you a child psychologist. I know you're not a licensed one, but you probably know more about kids than just about anybody I've met, because you have had thousands of them. And how do you think kids are feeling right now and in the wake of this COVID-19 and not in the wake of it, we're still in the middle of it.

Speaker 4:

Right? Right. Well, my wife actually is a social worker and she's probably the better one to answer that question. But that being said, I mean, I think we all know , you know, the impact of being with our parents, with their parents for so long being isolated from their kids or from their friends and being at home for now. I mean, we're onto our fourth month, I guess, at home third, fourth month. And , you know, it's, it's, it's, it's devastating for the kids. They, they , uh , you know, the, their kids' mental health, the impact on them is truly astronomical. And they need to have the social experiences of being outdoors, being with, you know, relating to their peers, being in school, being a camp. And it is then the negative impact is, will be, you know, will be very challenging and very hard.

Speaker 3:

What , what is the, the great experience for kids when , when they go to a camp, because, you know, I've read lots of psych, psychological articles about, you know, parents, these days don't allow their kids to kind of be independent. Do you know, we spend too much time taking them here and managing their life from hour to hour. And, you know, there's an example of the little girl who falls over in the park and their parents come running over right away rather than just kinda let her sit there for a minute and know that she's okay and that she can get up on her own. And I think that's what a lot of kids do in camp. They get up on their own and all sorts of ways.

Speaker 4:

That's right. And, you know, I sort of, I use, I use the saying, I think as the world changes camp is the one place that stays the same and the values and the philosophies that my father started, you know , 65 years ago still exists today. You know, and as the world becomes more technological with parents who are more, who are over-involved, let's say whether they're, whether they're helicopter, parents guilty, we're all guilty. We Alison , we all, we all are , uh , or there's snowplow parents, you know, camp is the one place where they can get back to what really matters, you know, where the kids can go and learn how to talk to their friends and work through , uh , work through differences, learn how to collaborate, cooperate , uh, learn how to live together with staff members, giving, you know, working with them and , and giving them advice and supporting them and learn how to feel good about themselves as individuals. So, you know, when they, in our camp, we , we ma we, we, our canoe trips are mandatory. So each cabin group goes out with the trippers and the counselors, and they have to go on a cab canoe trip. And it's the one thing that kids complain about more and more than more than anything else. And of course, when they come back, they say that was great. And we know they need to, they need to sleep on our route. They need to experience the uncomfort, the discomfort of being an attempt and having it rain and the 10th , getting wet and, and to work through these things together as a group and , and , uh , be away from their iPads and phones and technology. So, you know, camp is the one place where they really , um, grow as individuals and have fun, make lifelong friends, but I don't know , get away from the world and, or be able to be themselves and , uh , let loose and enjoy. And it's , it's so special in that way. And I, that's what I hope never changes .

Speaker 3:

Do you think kids are less resilient now? Are kids in 20, 20 different than when you and I went to campus campus ?

Speaker 4:

Yes. For sure. I mean, there's no question. I think as parents, we, we, we, you know, coddle our kids a lot and we need to let them, as you say, fall and, and get dirty and roll around it and , and get up and move on and continue to play. So it's hard as a society. We're very much not just parents, but we're all over involved and we're all judging every, every detail , uh, and the kids are worried about things that they don't need to be worried about. Uh, hopefully. And so, yeah, I mean, I think they are less resilient, but naturally when they get to camp, they, they start to build resiliency, as you say, and , and they become that way. And I think the people, that's why, you know, the people who end up working on staff and continuing on they, they are incredible adults. They learn so much about, about working, as I said, collaborating and being resilient, strong human beings. Uh , so, you know, society pushes us away from resiliency, but I think pro um, activities like camp and others , uh, you know, build it back up.

Speaker 3:

So all of those parents who normally send their kids to camp and get a couple of months off, you think they're going to have a big case of resilience this summer?

Speaker 4:

That's right. No , there's no question. This is having a big impact, not just on the kids. There were a lot of, I canceled the plane tickets for that , for sure.

Speaker 3:

Is that what , so how do you give that to your kids? If you can't , you know , if they're not going to be in cabins and, you know , pushing paddles through the water and getting up off the ground with a poor Taj canoe on their shoulder and how parents are going to try and give that to them in the summertime.

Speaker 4:

It's really hard. I mean, obviously a lot depends on if they're able to get out of the house as well. I mean, you can, we all try and work with our kids and develop resiliency within the home, but you know, the more experiences they can have outside the home that do so, or the better, I mean, you know, for some older kids, you know, I've talked to parents about things they can do and whether it's getting a job or whether it's , uh, whether it's , um , we have some, some of our CIT boys this summer, some of our 16 year old counselor and training campers want to , they want to , uh, they want to do a run to camp, like a cherry Fox type run, where about six of them, they bring vans and they rotate and do a whole thing, raising money for charities , uh, you know, and that they're , uh, they're , you know, they have to find experiences that challenge them in ways that they're uncomfortable with him , uh, but also where they can grow and learn. So it's , but it is hard. It is definitely hard.

Speaker 3:

Adam , I want to leave you smiling. And , uh , you know, we wish you the West, the , the very best, I'm a big fan of camp, white pine and outdoor experiences for kids. And I know you will survive and you will be back next year and , uh , stay light up heart as much as you can in the COVID-19 situation.

Speaker 4:

Well, thank you very much, Dana, and all the best to you and your family and everyone there . And our, you know, our hearts are with you. And thank you.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. Ma'am alright . From Northern Ontario to England and Kent, and we meet dr. Lindsey , Cameron, who is a senior lecturer in psychology and the director of education in the school of psychology. I dr . Cameron, how are you?

Speaker 5:

Hello? Hi.

Speaker 3:

So you're studying how children become social beings is what I've read , um, and how they develop social knowledge and skills that us adults take for granted. Do you want to give me the top five ,

Speaker 5:

um, things that we take for granted, how to make friends, how to problem solve, how to make decisions, how to sort of take the perspective of someone else? Um, um, yeah. How to control your emotions. It's another one .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well, I mean, us adults need to do all of that too. So, but I mean, here we are in the middle of a pandemic and it has really hit kids heart, I think, as a parent , um, do you have kids yourself?

Speaker 5:

I do. I have three kids.

Speaker 3:

I've got two boys. So you're , you're the , it's probably the same situation given on different ages that kids have suddenly not been able to graduate or kids have not been able to see their friends for, you know , at least two months. And that must have a toll socially on them.

Speaker 5:

Absolutely. I mean, social , social interaction is so important for children's development. It's important for us adults. It's important for children. And depending on the age of your children, you know, this pandemic is having a different effect on them. So, you know , if you've got, I don't know how old your kids are, but I've got a two year old, a seven year old and a 10 year old, I would say out of all of them, the seven year old is probably offended the hardest because chatting on zoom doesn't really happen for a seven year old boy. It doesn't really do anything for him in terms of friends, he wants to play with his friends. He wants to interact with them and that's where eating missing .

Speaker 3:

So is this just a little holiday and a little break in that social development? Or do you think it has long lasting effects on kids?

Speaker 5:

I think it depends how long this could go on for here in the UK. Our schools haven't been in for a few months now, and I don't know what's gonna happen in September. Yeah . So we're kind of,

Speaker 3:

the kids are going back to school next week. One of them, the 12 year old goes back next week. So he does get some school .

Speaker 5:

I think, I think we might find for those kids that are in a good position at home, we've got a lot of support. They'll go back to school and they'll just, things will go back to normal for them. Um, it's difficult for those more vulnerable kids that haven't got the support at home. It's going to be harder for them to catch up and get back to normal culture .

Speaker 3:

Parents fill that gap.

Speaker 5:

I think one of the best things that parents can do is try and play like kids. So think about what your children enjoy doing, what they like to play. How do they like to play? What games do they like to do and try and play with them? Like you're a kid as well, because that was

Speaker 3:

that's interesting because I saw you wrote about that. You wrote about that. You said like drop your parenting for a minute and get down on your hands and knees and just play like another kid.

Speaker 5:

I think that would help. I think that would really help because even just for a little while, just try and yeah. Just get involved into their world for a little while. I think that would help them because what they're really missing is that sort of joint play, you know , with another child where they're just getting, making up games, making up the rules, make imaginary, play rough and tumble play. They're really missing all of that .

Speaker 3:

So in Canada and in the United States, and in some parts of Europe, camping is a huge thing. Um, where kids go to overnight camps and those camps have been, I've been canceled to the point that some kids say summer has been canceled. I mean, they take it very emotionally because they see friends they're year by year, they are away from us. They get away from their parents and they do things on their own. And people say, you know, that really builds resiliency. Do you agree with that? The kids have to get away from their parents a bit.

Speaker 5:

I think that free play unstructured play, whether it's, you know, in school and play time , um, playing out afterschool or at campus so important for children's development is just essential for so many skills, personal, social, cognitive skills, developing understanding of emotions. You know, so many things that they development, it's just so important and they enjoy it. You know , it's fun. It brings a lot of joy into their life. But the key thing is that interaction away from, you know , parents who provides structure and it really actually playing effectively with children without your parents around or adults around requires a lot of skills that children have to develop. And so I could see how camp would actually force children to develop the skills because they want to play. They want to interact with other kids. And so they have to develop these skills to be able to do on the road . Without parents around these skills are really important.

Speaker 3:

You know , I'm sure you've heard the term helicopter parents. I learned a new one this week from my Canadian friends, and that is snowplow parent parents. So we don't have slow snow in England, but that's, you know, you push everything out of the way of your children. You do everything for them. And same with helicopter parents here . You're constantly hovering over them and organizing their lives and making things easy for them. Maybe we need to get a bit too easy. And that's why all of this discussion about how they spend their summers is really important.

Speaker 5:

Hmm . I mean, I understand what you're saying and I do that too. Of course I do. I'm, I'm sure I'm a helicopter snowplow of and all those things, but the, one of the, there's a few different reasons why kids are , um, spending. So we know that kids are spending less time free, have less free play, less unstructured, play time with other children. It's one of the reasons is parents are worried about crime. They're worried about letting their kids out to play and just themselves, without any adults around , um , there's much more structured activities. There's pressure academically. You know , so parents feel the pressure to not let their kids go out and play , um , or to just have that free play time so I can understand why parents do it. And I do it as well, but it is important to , to understand that that free play time with unstructured play without adults hovering around is really important is when kids learn to sort of manage other children to kind of manage interactions effectively to control themselves so they can carry on the game to control their emotions. Um, they learn to make decisions that these are all things that you need to get along with people. And if your patients are always there, then you know, you know that you can always go to them and say , um, you know, so, and so has done this to me. So, and Sue's not playing my game. If your parent is not there to sort things out for you, you have to learn to sort them out for yourself. And that is a good skill for children to have. I know that my, my two kids can be playing my two older kids can be playing along really well together really nicely. As soon as I come in that room, they're all, you know, they're all about service or did this. He did that.

Speaker 3:

Well , I'm glad, I'm glad to know that somebody else is in that movie.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. So sometimes it's good to step back and let them just get on with it and they can rise to the challenge a lot at the time.

Speaker 3:

So is this , um, is this attached to time in terms of development? Do , is this just, okay, so, you know, you take this two months out of kids' lives or you take maybe even a summer out of their lives and they'll just, they will pick up and they will eventually just fill that in. And it's on a delayed fuse. They, how they bridge those social gaps, or do you feel that something is potentially lost here because a weeks roll into two months and maybe some of this rolls into a year or more?

Speaker 5:

I think it just depends on how long this is all Google for. I think really, I think, you know , a few months, a few months for a three year old in proportion is much more than it is for, you know, a 12 year olds, 15 year olds. So , um, you know, I do think that people will, once they get back to school, their usual routine with their peers, things they'll be able to get back to normal and the skills will come back. Um, younger kids. Yeah. They might take a bit longer to kind of get used to interacting with other people. Again, I think that would be quite hard actually for , for all the ages because younger kids might think they're going back to school and it will be like it was before, but that's important to let them understand that it might not be them . They won't be able to interact with their peers like they did before. Um, they're , they're gonna have to change the way they play a bit in terms of social distancing. And so on

Speaker 3:

last word on all of this as the summer of 2020 presents itself to us in a very unusual terms,

Speaker 5:

let's look forward to summer 2021 when hopefully we'll be able to do all this fun things that we are really looking forward to

Speaker 3:

dr. Lindsey , Kevin, thank you so much from Kent university. Great to talk to you. And that's this edition of backstory. I hope your family is safe and happy and summer is

Speaker 2:

really canceled . We'll make the best of it. And from London, you know, they always say here, keep calm and carry on. Talk to you, sir .

Speaker 6:

[inaudible] .

Camp White Pine/ Adam Kronick
Dr. Lindsey Cameron/ Psychologist Kent University