Life can often feel like it’s go, go, go. Sometimes, we need to hit pause.
When that happens, we have a few go-to strategies to take care of ourselves between all the camp fun. These simple ways to recharge are kid-tested and counselor-approved—and can be used anywhere you please.
What’s even better? They are activities kids can initiate themselves. You know your child best. Take or modify these ideas to fit your child’s needs and interests.
1. We Like to Move It, Move It!
Let’s get the day started. In the mornings, we like to do a little stretching and moving to wake up and rejuvenate our bodies. No matter your kids’ physical abilities or body types, movement is a great way to help them start understanding what feels right for their bodies and get the blood flowing. Switch up the routine and start your morning with one of these:
- Stretching is a great way to get ourselves moving and in touch with how our bodies like to move. The great thing about stretching is that it can be done sitting, standing, or lying down—and we can be the judge of what will work best for our bodies at any given time. Try yoga cards with instructions, Youtube videos, or kid yoga classes!
- Not feeling it? That’s ok! A morning dance party or just grooving to our favorite camp songs, like these, are also great to get moving and energized.
- Prefer a different camp classic? Give aerobic stretching or a backyard game of catch a try if sports are more your child's thing.
2. Smell The Flowers
We’re big believers that the simplest things often yield the most powerful results. After all, that’s why camp is all about the simple joys of community, friendship, and fun.
During all the hustle and bustle at camp, sometimes we just need to stop and remember that there’s air. A deep breath usually does the trick. Try using one of the breathing exercises* below, designed for kids, for a moment of zen or a boost of energy.
- Five Fingers: Inhale and count to five with your fingers opening; exhale and count down closing one finger at a time. Working with younger kids? You can modify this breath by simply having them breathe in as they open a fist, and exhale as they close a fist.
- Belly-Ride Breath: Laying down, place a small stuffed animal, another prop, or hand over your belly. Then, take several deep breaths while focusing on the movement of the prop. Five deep breaths should do the trick!
- Hot Chocolate or Soup: Imagining a cup of hot chocolate or bowl of delicious soup, take a deep breath of the smell in, and blow out to cool the liquid.
Yep, that’s right, a deep breath can help amp up the energy too.
- Lion Breath: Sitting up on hind legs or on all fours, imagine you’re looking over a forest. Take a deep breath in and stick out your tongue and release with a big haaaa! Roar.
- Bunny Breath: Wiggle your nose, then sniff in four times quickly. Relax and repeat!
To mix it up, we also love moving with our breath and getting outside. An easy way to bring mindfulness to the breath is by taking a walk. Here, focus your thoughts on walking, placing one foot in front of the other, and listening to the sounds around you.
Working with older kids? Check out apps like Headspace, Insight Timer, and Calm. They offer guided meditations that can be done on a car ride, walk, or before bed.
*Breaths adapted from Missy Brown's Deep Play for Kids Foundations Training Manual
3. Eating, Mindfully!
At camp, we’re always on the go. Sometimes we, too, need to take time to really enjoy what’s happening right at the moment. That’s just what North Star Reach, the SeriousFun camp in Michigan, has in mind with its meditative meal tradition. Here's what goes down:
All week it's laughter and high-energy fun happening across the campgrounds. At the last breakfast, a hush falls over the entire camp. Campers and counselors silently line up and head into the dining hall, where they enjoy their pancakes and eggs (in silence!).
The meal is a nice break, meant to focus campers and counselors on the delicious food around them. While you may not embrace a meditative meal at home, mindful eating can be simple! Try taking the time to notice what colors and shapes make up your meal, how food tastes, and how it makes your belly feel.
4. Kick Up Your Feet
We know you probably don't have a hammock handy 24/7 (though it's not a bad idea). But whether you call it a siesta, toes-up time, or recharge, there's value in getting plenty of rest so your body can rejuvenate for the day ahead. We typically do this after lunch at camp, and while it isn’t always possible to fall asleep, it allows us some quiet time. We like to find low-stimuli activities that campers can enjoy alone.
Ones we love include coloring, journaling, reading, beading, braiding, play building, etc. It can help to encourage kids to rest in one spot, such as a bed. And of course, we love napping itself (and a good night’s sleep) too.
Sara loves being in the sun and trying new things—a major plus when they happen together (like at camp!). When she’s not learning about the nifty ins and outs of SeriousFun, you’ll find her tasting new foods or practicing mindfulness and yoga. Fun fact: her favorite animal is a shark.