Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Halfway House For Kids Reentering Society

This is SB before her release from prison camp.
She is the one with the ball.  She is with her
"campies' (yes I made up that word and it cracks
me up) so she is happy and pleasant.
Yeah, so SB is back from overnight camp.  We counted down the days.  We couldn't wait to see her.  I believe we made it about 24 hours before I had to check the camp website to see how many days until camp starts next year (313 as of today).

After the initial round of hugs and pleasantries, all questions and comments were met with disdain and looks of disgust.  Why would we ask that?  How would she know?  What do you even mean?  Why do you care?  Then add the nodding, patronizing smile, eye roll and "okay" when we tell her she needs to stop being so prickly.  When we get further annoyed she huffs "I'm not even doing anything!"  Sigh.

I think the problem is that the kids spend 7 weeks at camp with no parental supervision or daily input.  I also think that we need to start treating campers like released convicts in an attempt to help them more smoothly reenter society.  You know, help them be a success on the outside.

It really does make sense if you give it some thought.  Like people in prison, campers have limited access to the outside world.  They can only call home a once or twice (if at all) the whole summer.  They only get one family visit for the whole seven weeks.  The only news or outside information they get is what camp tells them or what they get from letters.  The food is passable, but not fabulous.  The beds and bunk houses are clean, but hardly luxurious.  Ditto the showers.

I am well aware that camp is waayyyyy better than being in prison.  Plus, it has the added benefit of not
This the halfway house
bus.  Note the campers look
 a little disoriented.
being something you have to be embarrassed about when people ask where your kid is.  

I have figured out how to deal with these released convicts home-bound campers.  They should go to halfway houses for campers for a week.  It's perfect because when overnight camp ends, there is still a week of day camp left, so it gets them home right when everyone else finishes up with their summer activities.

At the halfway house, the campers would have some chores and the house mothers would keep a little bit closer tabs on them than the counselors at camp did.  For instance, the housemother might ask if they've brushed their teeth or washed their hands (at all this week).  The house mother would make the campers store their clothing on shelves and in drawers and not keep everything randomly strewn around the floor, as the campers had become accustomed to doing.  The housemother would also give extra chores to any campers who rolled their eyes or who gave snotty answers to reasonable questions.  She would slowly reintroduce computer and phone time.  That way, when the camper got home, she wouldn't have to spend the first 48 hours on the computer and phone with the people she just left.

Prisons Camps of yesteryear.
Everyone is dressed the same and huddled
together, likely complaining about the food.
Essentially, each bunk at camp is their own little prison gang.  The halfway houses would have campers from all different camps, so each camper had a few friends, but wasn't surrounded by all the members of their gang their camp friends.  It would help them get used to not being surrounded by 8-10 of their closest friends 24/7.  This would also foster the desire to go home to the familiar because campers don't like anything new or anything to change; they would be horrified by new people from other camps with whom they were supposed to mingle.

Once the campers were released to their parents, they would be happy to see their parents and be ready to focus their full attention on their family and home friends.  Once they had been camp-detoxed, their homecoming would be a pleasure for all and neither parents nor children would have to immediately start the countdown for the next year's camp date.


  1. Thanks for letting me know the eye rolling and "I'm not doing anything!" are here to stay - gah! Good luck surviving the post-camp-olypse, it will be followed by the back to school drudgery. Lucky you!! :)

    1. do not even want to think about back to school!! ugh!

  2. Are you going to employ a similar tactic when the Boy returns from college? I'm thinking that might be a wee bit worse than camp!!

    1. ugh - I didn't even think of that!!!


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