Camp Spring Creek: Tips from a Parent

 The two Peytons: Peyton S and Peyton H. 

The two Peytons: Peyton S and Peyton H. 

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Peyton and his awesome tutor, Ishani

So, are you thinking about the idea of camp for your child, and questioning if your child is ready…or if you personally are ready? I know first-hand how daunting the idea of sending your child off to camp for four weeks or more can be. In 2016, we had tried what felt like everything to provide help to our son, when a friend suggested I look into Orton-Gillingham and we found Camp Spring Creek. Our son was in third grade and his confidence was below zero. After speaking with Susie, we decided to apply to camp.  Peyton was accepted, and then the nerves became REAL! The idea of having him gone for six weeks, only being able to call home once a week, how would we ever handle this? Well, fast forward to week fiveof camp, and guess what…Peyton had bought into Orton-Gillingham, was advocating for himself, and he asked to extend his camp time and stay the whole eight weeks. Yes, eight weeks! 

When we picked Peyton up that year, we could not believe the difference in his reading ability and his CONFIDENCE!!!! We were AMAZED and shocked in the most wonderful way. So you ask, is CSC right for your child? This is a very personal question, but if you are looking for your child to grow in reading, independence, time management, responsibility, and confidence…this is where the magic happens. Peyton attended his second year at camp in 2017, and again had an amazing experience. This summer, our youngest son will be attending CSC for the first time and we are all so excited for this opportunity. 

I know that each family is different on how they handle discussing dyslexia with their child, but in our family, we are very open about it. In fact, dyslexia is known in our house as a “SUPERPOWER” and our children know that they just learn differently. They also know that they are gifted in other ways because of their dyslexia, and they embrace this. We made both children a part of the decision about going to camp, since after all they are the ones who must put in the work. 

So, you ask, how do you prepare your child? How do you prepare as a parent? Well, I must be honest, as a parent, there really is no way to prepare except to realize that you will miss your child dearly. The part that will hold you together will be knowing that they are growing, they are being loved on a lot, and that this is an amazing opportunity for your child. As for preparing your child, let me just say that the staff is AMAZING, and will really help with the transition on drop off day. They are there right when you arrive and really do a great job interacting with the kids to instantly make them feel comfortable. There are also returning campers and parents who are always willing to “wisk” them away and show them around camp.  The bonds of friendship start almost immediately and for us, have continued even after camp. If you think it would be helpful to talk with another parent, or even another camper, I know Peyton and I are always available to do calls and or FaceTime chats. Susie also has other parents and campers she can suggest as well.

After now having two summers under our belt, here are a few thoughts on packing and making it through the camp time. 

·       You, family, and friends can write all the letters/cards that you want. You CANNOT send care packages, money or any other item. Only letters and cards! What I decided to do so I didn’t say the same thing every day, was to send jokes. The kids love to get mail, and the jokes proved to be a success because he loved sharing them with his camp friends. To make it even easier, I prepared a whole stack in advance and that way I just had to put one in the mailbox each day. I found lunchbox joke books on Amazon and would just pull two to three out to send at a time. 

·       The kids will write a letter home each week, however, if you want to make it easy for them to write more often, you may want to send them with some cards with pre-addressed stamped envelopes. This will make it easy if they want to just say hi and pop it in the mail. 

·       As for packing, we used packing cubes and they proved to be a big help in keeping things organized, and you can stuff a lot into a small space. 

·       Don’t stress if you see your kids wearing the same clothes everyday in the pictures😊  They survive even wearing dirty clothes, and eventually they will change their clothes when they start to smell bad enough. LOL! My rule was that Peyton HAD to brush his teeth every morning and night…and I asked him to PLEASE at least change his underwear.  HA

·       The packing list says jeans…this just means long pants. Peyton is very much my “texture” child and jeans are not his thing. Send whatever long pants your child is comfortable with.

·       Label everything!  We bought the clothes labels that just stick into the clothes and you write on them with permanent marker. No ironing needed. You can get them on Amazon.

·       We packed in a trunk, but Susie does have an option of a four-chest of plastic drawers that you can order. We saw this as a first last year, and it looked like it would be nice to help keep everything organized. 

·       Laundry detergent is provided, but we sent laundry PODs last year and Peyton said they helped to make his clothes smell much better after washing. 

·       We also bought a mattress pad for the bed, which is not needed, but Peyton really enjoyed having it.

Most importantly, KNOW THIS!!!! Your child will be loved on A LOT, will eat AMAZING food as Peyton says, will get to experience SO many different activities and areas of fun, will make unbelievable friendships, and will come home with a new confidence and joy that you may never have known they have. 

If I can be of any assistance, answer any questions, or you would want to ask Peyton questions, feel free to email anytime.  Heather@HeatherHopkinson.com

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Harry and Peyton chilling in summer 2016