We learned that my son's middle school offers a special away-from-home experience for their students. The kids travel up to southern Wisconsin along with the school staff for a two-day, one-night adventure at a YMCA camp. Activities include ropes courses, climbing walls, and zip lining. It was described to us as a highlight of the school year, one that students remember and talk about for months.
Although it is not mandatory that all kids attend, it sounded to us like it would be a fantastic experience for Kai, and we wanted him to take part.
But we knew he would have a lot of anxiety about it.
For one thing, it would be Kai's first overnight away from family.
And so we tried to proactively take some steps to help that it goes as smoothly as possible.
First, we told him without hesitation that he was going to go the camp. We didn't want to waffle and have him think that he could lobby us to keep him home.
Second, we regularly talked to him about what a fun experience it would be. We reminded him that he had already tried zip lining this summer. We pointed out that he would get to stay up until 10PM at camp, an hour later than at home. And we mentioned that if he did not go, he would have to listen to other kids talk about the experience and would regret missing out.
Finally, we asked Kai's school social worker if she had suggestions on how we can reduce his anxiety. She said that she could arrange a tour of the camp so Kai could see it and visualize the experience before he had to go with the group from school.
And so, on Columbus Day, my wife drove Kai up to the camp and they were given a personal tour.
First stop was the dining hall where everyone would have their meals.
Next, they walked around the grounds. The hub of all outdoor activities would be at the "Mount MacLean Skyway."
Here there would be a series of ropes courses where the kids would have to maneuver around tires, ropes, and planks to get from one side to the other.
In addition, on one end of the structure is a climbing wall.
And on the other is the zip line.
Of course, the kids will be wearing safety harnesses and helmets so they will be safe, something that we constantly reminded Kai as he gets anxious about everything.
After that, they walked over to the cabins, set in the picturesque woods, which will be their sleeping quarters.
Kai liked the bunkbeds inside and declared that he wanted one of the top bunks.
The visit to the camp seemed to help lessen Kai's anxiety. But we still worry about how it will go.
Tomorrow is the big day. Kai will go to school in the morning, and then they will all depart for camp. I'm not expecting that all will go perfectly smoothly, but here's hoping that Kai will take part in most activities and come back happy that he went.