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  • Melinda Murphy

Common sense camp at home

Like most parents out there, Oona Hanson and her husband, Paul, want their children to grow up to be independent. An LA-based parenting coach and educator who has been sheltering in place with her family due to COVID-19, Oona knew there was no better time for her kids — Gwendolyn, 17, and Harris, 12 — to attend a "common sense" summer camp.

"My husband and I have joked for probably 10 years that our kids needed 'common sense camp,'" Oona told POPSUGAR. "With the pandemic canceling their sleepa-way camp options and keeping us all home this summer, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment — we could make common sense camp a reality. With flexible schedules and the ability to work from home, we decided to go for it."

To get started, Oona and Paul purchased Catherine Newman's new book, How to Be a Person: 65 Hugely Useful, Super-Important Skills to Learn Before You're Grown Up ($16), which bills itself as "the ultimate guidebook to becoming a person whom everyone will like being around more."

"The kids had somewhat mixed reactions at first, which makes sense because they weren't quite sure what it would entail," shared Oona. "I think our enthusiasm as parents made it clear that this was really happening, and they knew it wasn't optional! I love a theme and going 'all in' on things, so I got excited to have our own matching camp T-shirts. My daughter, our 'counselor-in-training,' designed our shirts."

With Gwendolyn officially on board, all Oona and Paul had to do was sell Harris on the concept. "He was a little more hesitant, but he's really been enjoying it so far," explained Oona. "Giving them some autonomy has been key to their motivation. They had a say in the things they wanted to learn and how they wanted the schedule to work. We also include lots of fun activities, like on-theme family movies and making s'mores and friendship bracelets."

Eventually, both Gwendolyn and Harris began to embrace the idea, especially when it comes to sharpening their cooking skills.

"My son had never made regular pasta before, but the challenge factor really motivated him."

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