10 Questions to Ask Your Child After Camp
After your child returns from camp and catches up on sleep, what do you ask to avoid the dreaded "We did fun stuff" response?
All parents ask, "Was it fun?" - and hopefully it was! But the camp experience should be bigger, broader, and deeper than just fun, and "fun" shouldn't be the only measurement used to evaluate the experience.
The only time anyone learns anything is when they reflect on it - and so, in the days, weeks and months after your child returns home from camp, it's time to start asking the important questions. What your child reflects on and pays attention to in the aftermath is what will likely live beyond the experience.
The camp experience has its own culture, a different environment, a different rhythm, new relationships, and even new perspectives on life and faith. It can be difficult for returning campers to jump back into their old routines. Expect life to be different - and allow it to be. Ask questions over the next days, weeks, and even months. On that note...
The first stories will be those about the van breaking down, the burnt hot dogs, the practical jokes - and then comes the more serious stuff. Ask meaningful questions, like these:
- What was one of your favorite parts of camp?
- What did you experience or feel that you never have before?
- What are you coming home with? (Other than lots of dirty clothes!)
- What was life-shaping, even life-changing for you?
- What do you think will stick with you?
- How was Judaism and life experienced there?
- Was there a deeper part of the session? How would you describe that part of your experience?
- What challenged you?
- Who shaped your faith? In what ways?
- After this experience, what should I learn from you?
As your child responds to your questions and begins to tell stories, do your best to listen, not to evaluate, challenge, or jump in with your own stories. Instead, let your son or daughter own and grow from their experience. The ultimate learning experience comes when we let our young people be our teachers, so be ready to be challenged, to allow for new experiences, and even to enter into a new practice of life and faith.
Aaron Heft is an assistant to the directors at URJ Camp Kalsman and a student at East Carolina University, where he studies conventions and special events planning. Aaron served as membership and communications vice president on North American Federation of Temple Youth's North American Board for the 2013-2014 year.