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Surviving The Anxiety Of Summer Camp

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NEW YORK (WLNY) – Summer camp season is here.

But for many families, a child leaving home for the first time can create a stressful situation, said TV 10-55’s Katie McGee.

Jodi Shapiro will send her 7-year-old son Ethan away to camp for the first time this summer.

He will be away for seven weeks, and Shapiro said her separation anxiety has already kicked in.

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“I’m not going to see him every day. I’m not going to speak to him every day,” she said. “I’m not going to know what he’s doing, if he’s making friends, if he’s okay.”

While camp can be an enriching experience for millions of kids, there can be a lot of anxiety involved.

“I think it’s perfectly normal for parents to be nervous and to have some anxiety around it,” said Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, marriage and family therapist. “It’s a huge separation, and if you look at the development of the child, it’s a huge milestone to be sending your child off to sleep away camp.”

The nervousness, he explained, doesn’t take away from the value of the experience.

“[Camp] increases their self reliance, it increases their confidence, and it really builds for them the two foundations that are needed for a successful life – which are having meaningful relationships, and being able to push through challenges,” he said.

It is important to be sure both you and your child are ready for the experience.

“Good camps have orientation sessions during the course of the previous summer, new camper picnics, orientations just for parents,” said Richie and Sheryl Kamen, owners and directors of Camps Equinunk and Blue Ridge.

“By the time the children and parents are ready, I think their confidence level is very high,” Kamen said. “The other thing is… at the bus stop – we tell the parents, wear sunglasses and your child will get off to a great start.”

That is exactly what Jodi Shapiro is planning to do.

“I’ll be a mess,” she said. “I’ll have to wear big sunglasses so he can’t see the tears.”