The weather is heating up. The sun is shining. Kids can see the finish line for the school year — and families are thinking about summer camp. While I was the Wednesday Addams of my summer sleep away camp the one time I tried it, I know that for a lot of people camp was a really important, exciting part of their childhood. And it’s also a time when kids might have more adult-type experiences — but their parents aren’t around to help. That’s where a new online sex and puberty education platform called AMAZE comes in.
AMAZE launched last September with a series of animated videos covering everything from bullying to gender identity to puberty to porn to STIs. Basically, anything a kid might be curious about, they’ve created an age-appropriate video for and their “sex ed video playlist” has gotten over 1.5 million views since it launched. In honor of the summer season, they’re running a new program called Camp AMAZE. From May 22 to May 26, AMAZE will be sharing a video of the day for parents to watch “around the campfire” with their kids, as well as hosting relevant conversations on social media.
“Summer camp can be a formative experience for a lot of kids,” Nicole Cushman, executive director of Answer at Rutgers and member of the AMAZE team tells Bustle. “This may be the first time they spend significant time away from their families, and teens and tweens are at a point developmentally in which their friends become an important influence. Going away to camp can give them a chance to test out this newfound freedom, so it's the perfect time for parents to address their expectations, set clear boundaries and arm their children with the information they may need to navigate new situations.”
Even though I only spent one week at sleep away camp, I can definitely attest to the boundary-pushing that can happen. I developed my first real crush on a girl (terrifying), was accused of letting a boy put his hands down my pants (didn’t happen), and got busted with a lighter (even though I didn’t smoke). All of that is relatively tame, sure, but I can see how it’d be stressful for a parent to think about their kid facing that kind of thing on their own. With that in mind, here are four issues a kid might face at summer camp that Camp AMAZE will be tackling.
Nothing crushes like your first crush. Parents can help their kids prepare for that inevitability by having the (potentially awkward) conversations about it.
"Parents want their children to be safe, healthy and happy, so it's imperative that we overcome our embarrassment and start talking," Cushman says. "Young people consistently report that their parents are the biggest influence in their decisions about sex and relationships and — however uncomfortable they may appear — they want to hear about these topics more from their parents."
This is one I can personally speak to! I was definitely bullied by the girls at my summer camp, first when the accused me of hooking up with a guy I hadn't even talked to and then when they ratted me out for having a lighter. (Jerks.) Talking about bullying beforehand can help kids know how to deal with it when it comes, even when parents aren't around.
"Talking with kids about sex can feel awkward, for both parents and their children," Cushman says. "This is largely because we've been socialized to think of sex as taboo, but parents' silence on this topic only reinforces the stigma and shame that many young people feel about their sexuality."
4Pressure To Try Drugs
Camp AMAZE has videos to help parents talk with their kids about pressure to do drugs.
Being a tween or teen is tough, and talking to them can feel just as hard. Camp AMAZE is here to help.