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6 Ways to connect with kids at camp

Abbi Perets lives in Houston, TX, with her husband and five children.






Sending love from home

As the kids head off to camp, houses around the US are quieter (maybe too quiet!) and cleaner. There may even be leftovers at the end of dinner. And yet, once the novelty wears off, reality sets in -- you miss your kids! Good news: You can connect with them, even when they're far away. Here's how.

Woman writing letter

Maybe you just barely managed to keep it together on drop-off day. Maybe you feel guilty because you just now realized that your kids have been gone for a whole week and you haven't spared them more than a passing thought. Maybe you're somewhere in between. Whatever your situation, you're looking for a way to reach out to your kids and feel close to them, even though there may be a few states separating you at the moment. So what can you do?

1. Write a letter.

It's a time-honored tradition for a reason. Mail call at camp is the most exciting time of day, so make sure your child doesn't feel left out. More than that, though, use your letters as a chance to address topics you might have a harder time discussing in person. Describe what you love most about your kid. Recount stories from his youth and tell him how your life changed when he was born. Talk about your own summer camp experiences. Make your letter more than just a quick note scribbled on the page. Maybe he'll return the favor.

2. Redo her room.

A great way to feel closer to your child is to spend time in her space. Go through her closet and weed out too-small clothing and shoes. If she has items she's keeping for sentimental reasons, consider having them made into a keepsake quilt, or set them aside for her in a safe place. Repaint the walls and replace the furniture, or just get some new sheets to give the room a fresh look.

3. Start a scrapbook.

Those pictures that have been sitting in boxes for years? Start going through them. If you spend just 15 minutes a day sorting them, you'll be amazed at the progress you make by the time your child returns. Take the time to create a scrapbook -- print or digital -- that really reflects your child's personality. She might even thank you.

4. Make a video.

Is there a family event your child will miss because he's away at camp? Take along a video camera and let him participate later. Even if you can't send the video to him at camp, you can keep it for when he returns. And by making the video, you'll show him that out of sight is definitely not out of mind. Make a point of spending a few minutes each week in front of the camera, even if there's no special occasion to record.

5. Plan for her return.

Take some time to think about how you'll celebrate your child's return home. Will you go out to eat, or have a special home-cooked meal? Will her best friend accompany you to the airport for pickup? Figure out the details to keep yourself upbeat.

6. Make a list.

Right now, while you're feeling sentimental about your child, is the perfect time to make a list of all the things you love about him or her. Whether you do it with pen and paper or in pixels, keep a running record, and add to it whenever you think of something new. Make two copies of the list. Give one to your child when he or she returns, and keep the other in a safe place. You'll eventually need to refer to it.

Missing your kids is fine -- normal and healthy, even, but remember not to make them feel guilty for having fun. Let them enjoy their time away, and be ready to welcome them back with open arms.

Have a question for our summer camp expert Jill Tipograph? Jump on over to our message boards for advice.

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