An insightful and powerful look at the magic of summer camp—and why it is so important for children to be away from home . . . if only for a little while.
In an age when it’s the rare child who walks to school on his own, the thought of sending your “little ones” off to sleep-away camp can be overwhelming—for you and for them. But parents’ first instinct—to shelter their offspring above all else—is actually depriving kids of the major developmental milestones that occur through letting them go—and watching them come back transformed.
In Homesick and Happy, renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, shares a strong argument for, and a vital guide to, this brief loosening of ties. A great champion of summer camp, he explains how camp ushers your children into a thrilling world offering an environment that most of us at home cannot: an electronics-free zone, a multigenerational community, meaningful daily rituals like group meals and cabin clean-up, and a place where time simply slows down. In the buggy woods, icy swims, campfire sing-alongs, and daring adventures, children have emotionally significant and character-building experiences; they often grow in ways that surprise even themselves; they make lifelong memories and cherished friends. Thompson shows how children who are away from their parents can be both homesick and happy, scared and successful, anxious and exuberant. When kids go to camp—for a week, a month, or the whole summer—they can experience some of the greatest maturation of their lives, and return more independent, strong, and healthy.
About Michael Thompson
Michael Thompson, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, lecturer, consultant, and former seventh-grade teacher. He conducts workshops across the United States and internationally on social cruelty, children’s friendships, and boys’ development. With Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., he co-authored the New York Times bestseller Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, which was adapted into an acclaimed documentary shown on PBS. With Teresa H. Barker he co-authored The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life and Speaking of Boys: Answers to the Most-Asked Questions About Raising Sons. With Catherine O’Neill Grace and Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., he co-authored Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children and Mom, They’re Teasing Me: Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems. Dr. Thompson is married and the father of two. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, and can be reached at www.michaelthompson-phd.com.
“Every parent dreads letting children go. Partly, we dread it because we lack a clear roadmap of how and when to do it. Homesick and Happy changes that. It is a powerful and very accessible book that helps build maturity and resilience in our children—and also in parents, as well!”—Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and The Wonder of Girls
“With a deep understanding, a great sense of humor, and impeccable resources, Michael Thompson succeeds brilliantly in generating just a touch of envy in the hearts of all those parents who read Homesick and Happy . . . for the great fun their kids are going to have.”—Harriet Lowe, editor in chief, Camping magazine
“Thompson pours his heart into these pages, along with his unsurpassed wisdom about children and their parents. Full of practical advice and unforgettable anecdotes, this book is an instant classic.”—Edward Hallowell, MD, author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness
“With his usual compassion and warmth, Thompson helps parents let go of the imagined dangers that feed our anxieties, and avoid the real dangers of holding on to our children too tightly.”—Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, author of Playful Parenting
“Michael Thompson is back with a compelling argument for the brawn and bonds that only camp can give a child. You’ll be signing her up before you make it through the first chapter.”—Rachel Simmons, former director of Girls Leadership Institute Summer Camp and author of The Curse of the Good Girl