Emotional Health for Summer 2021

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Mental Emotional Social Health (MESH) Updates & Tips


By: Debbie Locketz, Assistant Camp Director and Director of Camp Care, LICSW

We are so excited to welcome campers back to Oconomowoc this summer! We know that the past 15 months have been challenging for everyone – and camp is more important than ever this year.  As the Camp Care Director, I work with a wonderful team during the summer and throughout the year to ensure we have a multi-faceted approach to supporting everyone on camp.  Here are some of the ways we are preparing to support everyone’s mental, emotional, and social heath (MESH) this summer: 

  • As always, we are working one-on-one with families to evaluate each camper’s individual needs before arrival to ensure a successful summer at camp. 
  • This year we expanded questions on our camper forms. Everyone has been through so much this year and we want to help prepare our staff to know your campers as much as possible prior to arrival at camp. Thank you to all our camp families for being partners and providing us with great details about your campers.  
  • We are already reading your forms!  If there is additional information or updates that you want to share about your camper, please send an email to dlocketz@urj.org 
  • While creating the daily schedule we have been very mindful about the flow and pace of the day. We know that being at camp and living communally will be a big social adjustment for some campers who have been remote all year.  
  • During the summer, our Camp Care team of social workers and psychologists onsite support both campers and counselors in ensuring each person on camp has the tools they need to have a successful experience.    
  • Many members of our year-round and summer leadership team have been training in Mental Health and Emotional First-AidThese training courses prepare staff to assess a campers needs and offer them appropriate support during camp 
  • Throughout this past year, members of our community have been working together in a task force to assess our practices around DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) at camp. Increasing and improving our DEI practices will lead to each member of our community feeling better and more supported in camp.  We are planning many new and improved training moments during our staff preparation weeks in this area.

Here are a few tips to help set your camper up for a successful summer!  
  • Help your camper to find ways to spend their downtime away from technology, so that arriving at a screen-free environment is less of an adjustment. 
  • Remind your camper that while they are at camp it is ok to have moments of sadness or of missing home and that they can have fun at the same time. 
  • Have your camper help pack themselves and pick out stationery etc., this can help campers not only know where their items are when they arrive but also help mentally ease into the camp experience. 
  • Some campers may be more nervous to leave home than usualBest practice is to listen and acknowledge that these feelings are normal, don’t feel like you always need to give advice. Stay supportive and encourage and remind campers they have the skills and strength to be away and that their counselors are always there for them if they need support.  
  • Everyone is so busy right now – be kind to yourselves! With the end of the school year, a pandemic, and getting ready camp you are all juggling a lot. We are here to support you and can’t wait to welcome your campers for an amazing summer!  

Debbie’s (she/her/hers) goal is to create a space where every camper can be successful at camp. She works on the OSRUI professional staff team year-round, and in the summer leads the OSRUI Camp Care team, which helps problem solve camper and staff concerns as they arise by working with campers, staff, and parents.  

If you want to learn more about Diversity & Inclusion at camp you can schedule time to talk to Debbie by clicking HERE.