by Wendy Slaton
Hometown: Houston, TX (third generation Texan!) • Education: BA in Developmental Psychology, University of Colorado, at Boulder; M.Ed, University of Houston • Hobbies: Exercise, snow skiing and traveling with family (looking forward to an exotic trip to Africa next summer) • Family Stats: Wife and Mom to two daughters (who attend college in different parts of country), and 15-year-old-son • Family Time: Supporting our hometown teams or working out together
Sunni Markowitz has dedicated most of her life working with children as a teacher, a diagnostician, researcher and special needs advocate. Today, she is pursuing her dream of running a summer camp. She shares with us how this opportunity has allowed her to model risk taking for her kids, as well as how doing one small thing can lead to big change!
What do you think is the biggest challenge Houston area parents face today?
Houston area parents have the same issues as the nation does: how to raise our kids to be compassionate, productive adults. Parenthood is a unique job that requires you to work yourself out of the job to be successful. We often confuse the job by thinking it is to make our kids happy, but that means we are defining what that looks like. We have to learn to watch our kids suffer a little to gain the independence and skills they need. Sometimes, the suffering is what our kids have to go through and sometimes, it is suffering ourselves.
What do you think is the biggest challenge our kids face today?
Honestly, I think our kids lack the desire to take risks. Our children have learned to be constantly connected to people though their digital lives and it has created an epidemic of voyeur-like behavior, which can cause them to be so self-critical and, therefore, leads to not taking risks. In addition, parents are very involved, allowing for limited independence. We must give them room to experiment with themselves, to break out of their patterns, fail…and learn from those mistakes. So many struggle when they go off on their own largely because they have not had the opportunity to take small or big risks up until that point.
What do you love about living in the Houston area?
What I love about Houston is the community! My family, like so many others, was affected by Hurricane Harvey and to have the support of so many during that time was really heartwarming. As a second-generation Houstonian, I have enjoyed watching Houston become one of the most diverse cities in America. I also appreciate the amazing food we have!
How do you encourage your kids to give back to their community?
The best tip is to show them through your actions. My husband and I are very involved in our religious community and have taken active leadership roles in many organizations. My husband is a former Chairman of the Board of Holocaust Museum Houston, which was such a commitment and my children were able to see how his hard work made a difference. For myself, a large part of my camp’s mission is incorporating of giving back. We host a non-profit girls’ organization for one week a summer that gives girls the summer camp experience, whereas, they would otherwise spend the majority of their summer in front of a screen or caring for younger siblings. It’s a chance for them to have fun, be outside and be a kid!
As a family, we provide opportunities for our children to participate in food drives, donating supplies after a disaster, and having them donate their own money to their chosen organization. My son fell in love with sea turtles at a young age and recruited sponsors to help underwrite reusable grocery bags that he sold to friends and family. In each bag was an explanation about why plastic bags are so dangerous for sea turtles. He then donated the money raised to a sea turtle rescue organization.
What is your favorite “Mom Hack?”
Currently my favorite “Mom Hack” is Hello Fresh! Having all of the ingredients with the recipe delivered to my door step is amazing! However, I do like my shopping list app and Life 360 to make sure my kids are safe, especially when they started driving.
Tell us about Camp Lantern Creek
Camp Lantern Creek is an all-girls summer camp in Montgomery that aims to empower girls and young women to find their voice, take chances, fail well and gain independent life skills…all while making life-long friends. We do this in many different ways; through our four-year leadership program for high school age girls, to creative performing and visual arts classes, sports classes, learning to use power tools and change a tire. We try to give girls the opportunity to explore their interests. In addition, we offer the traditional camp activities like swimming, canoeing, archery, arts and crafts and so on. We have started building a strong community of empowered moms, as well and host two mother/daughter weekends a year as well as some happy hours for moms only. A place where we can share, brainstorm, and build friendships with like-minded moms in a fun, supportive environment.