A Simple Parent Education Idea: Sharing a Book or Resource

Building Trust with Summer Camp Parents

In 2011, I read Dr. Christine Carter’s book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. The book resonated with me so much that I decided to make it a cornerstone of our parent education for that year. We purchased 850 copies of the book (discounted through the publisher) and shipped them to each of our camp families with a note outlining how much Carter’s philosophies and ideas aligned with our camp practices. A few months later, Carter participated in a follow-up webinar about the book that we promoted to our parents.

That book and webinar were my camp’s first foray into using a book as part of our parent education and marketing. We got such a great response that we have continued the practice of sharing resources (books, TED talks, blog posts, podcasts) with our camp families. We look for resources that align with concepts and values we promote at camp including unplugging, play, and connection.

Last spring, we followed advice from Steve Baskin and Kate Hutson (Camp Champions) at the 2018 ACA Conference and sent a copy of Dr. Michael Thompson’s Homesick and Happy to every first-year family attending Gold Arrow Camp. We got such great feedback from our families, including this email from a first-year parent:

I have been so impressed by all of the on boarding you do with new families. We just got the Michael Thompson book this weekend, thank you. He came to speak at Marymount this fall and I'm a fan of his. So, we are really excited for Nico and know he'll have an amazing time!

For busy camp professionals, we often feel pressure to create content ourselves. But that is not necessary.

Providing parents with resources and education throughout the year sends a strong message to your camp families that you are interested not only in providing their children with a life-changing summer experience, but also in partnering with them throughout the year. Camp parents view our sharing of resources as a valuable service that exceeds their expectations for a summer camp program.

Writer Bio:

Audrey Monke, with her husband, Steve, has owned and directed Gold Arrow Camp (Lakeshore, California) for 34 years. On her website, Sunshine Parenting, Audrey shares resources for parents and youth development professionals about summer camp, parenting, and happiness. Her podcast features interviews with parenting authors and experts, including camp directors. Audrey’s book, Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults (Hachette-Center Street, 2019) shares strategies for bringing the “magic” of camp home and is an excellent potential parent education tool.

Note from Travis

Some other books I recommend for sending to parents: