Pre-teens are a fun lot. I’ve had a great couple if days helping at my oldest’s Year 7 Camp. The second day was shooting, archery, Search and Rescue, plus abseiling and pioneering – lots of new things, on top of all the new things from Day 1.
This is all wonderful stuff. New experiences, and great confidence boosting.
The only thing is that they are TIRED.
Pre-teens pushed into new places and pushed out of their comfort zone, means that they are brain-dead, muscle-fatigued, and volatile. And even though they are tired, they are also ‘wired’ and it was still after 10pm before my son finally relaxed enough to sleep – he had been tossing and turning for 2 hours previously.
It doesn’t bode well for this afternoon, and the upcoming 3 days.
In fact just getting him up and moving this morning was a bit of an effort!
Here is my tip to get through these kinds of activities:
# Double, and Triple Check EVERYTHING.
If you have asked your tired pre-teen to do something. Check that it is done. Ask for things twice, ask specific questions. “Did you re-pack your togs and towel for today?” “Have you packed your drink bottle?” “Have you got sunscreen?”
I know that you might think that you shouldn’t have to do that with pre-teens, and it would be better if they learnt what happens when they forget things. And normally I would agree. In your normal life, on a normal school day there is a lot of learning to be done by letting you 10-13 year olds figure stuff out themselves.
But when there is new activities, new experiences, a lot of stimulation, then tired minds and bodies, it comes down to whether you want your pre-teen to succeed or fail. Whether you think these new experiences are a positive thing that you want your child to enjoy and grow from, or whether you are okay with them feeling stupid for forgetting things, or miserable and not enjoying the experience.
Pre-teens are still pretty young. They are still in need of guidance and wisdom, and when their barriers have been bumped and bruised they still need a bit of mothering. So, while you may be tempted to see if they sink or swim, I would suggest that the teachers can challenge them on camp quite effectively without any extra challenges thrown in by you.
Breathe, enjoy the challenges they are facing, and help them succeed by setting them up through checking, rechecking, and getting them out the door prepared for another wonderful experience.