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Common Sense Camp: Interview with Oona Hanson

What do you do when you realize that all of the normal summer activities have been canceled because of the pandemic? How will your teens keep themselves busy? Oona Hanson, parent coach, came up with an idea for her two teenagers that checks a lot of boxes.

Having always joked about creating a “Common Sense Camp” for their kids when they saw them struggling with ordinary tasks, Hanson decided to take advantage of the blank calendar and planned a summer camp experience. Hanson and her husband started by sitting down with their two teenage kids (seventeen and twelve) to figure out what they wanted to learn and made a plan for the next eight weeks.

Here’s what they came up with:

Week 1: Anti-Racism

Week 2: Kitchen Confidence

Week 3: DIY

Week 4: Laundry and Cleaning

Week 5: Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Week 6: Personal Finance

Week 7: City Savvy

Week 8: Social Skills

In addition to focusing on a weekly theme, they are trying to limit screen time due to feeling oversaturated from online schooling last semester. The daily camp is split up into short morning and afternoon sessions when everyone is together. Then there is plenty of time for each family member to engage in other activities as well. They end each week with a recap to discuss what worked well and what didn’t. The end of the week also features a presentation from each family member on what they learned from the week that they want to take into daily life.

Choice is built in as well. For example, Hanson’s children picked their own resources to learn about anti-racism. One elected to read several articles and the other made his way through a podcast. Then they discussed how they would put into action what they learned. This had ideas ranging from volunteering for an organization to advocating for a group to canvassing.

In addition to her children learning some life skills, Hanson’s goal for Common Sense Camp is to increase collaboration and communication, first in the family and then throughout one’s whole life. The motto, “Be Observant. Be Useful. Be Kind.” is relevant for their entire lives. While the Common Sense Camp is tailored to the Hansons’ needs, the concept is one that any family can customize by taking into consideration where they live and what their kids want to learn.

Maryann Veyon is a rising senior at Case Western Reserve University majoring in Chemical Engineering.  She is passionate about music, writing, and energy sustainability.

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