The Countdown to Camp

The Countdown to Camp. by Jolly Corley

The countdown to camp is in single digits and this week is full of “one more time before camp begins…”

As a mom this time of year brings both excitement and anxiety. My children cannot wait for camp.  Although I know they love their father and me very much I am positive one of the reasons they love camp so much is that they are surrounded by a community focused on kids. All winter our home balances the needs of parents’ work, kids’ school and activities. The juggling act is at times stressful and although I wish I could claim that I am one of those parents who stops doing work immediately when my children speak to me, I am usually doing dishes or making a list in my head while listening to my daughter explain to me every detail of each dance move she is doing in the upcoming ballet. At camp each activity is planned for and with children in mind.

At camp my children do not need to wait for me to contact their friend’s parent to set up a playdate or time to meet; they have friends ready to play or hang out at any time without waiting for a ride or needing to first finish homework. Campers have a plethora of activities to choose from at all times – No need to ask Mom for a ride! They are able to walk from their cabin to their activities and back, decide what they will do for their elective and choose whether or not they will visit the salad bar at lunch (no nagging from me to eat at least one of the veggies on their plate).

No wonder they are counting down the days!

As much as we are filled with excitement and love for camp, the “pre-camp anxiety” is also real and fills the waiting moments alongside the excitement of seeing camp friends, color war and canteen.  At our house we wonder…

  • What if I don’t get an upper bunk like I asked for?
  • Who will the counselors in my bunk be?
  • What if I really miss you so much I can’t stop crying, Mom?
  • What if all the kids from bunk 12 don’t come back?
  • What if…

These questions hurt because I don’t have all of the answers and therefore cause me to feel the anxiety and doubt of sending my children to camp. I begin to question if I am making the right decision. After all how many times do I hear, “Seven weeks?! Oh I don’t think I could do seven weeks with my kids?” Or “All boys (or all girls)? I think kids should really learn how to socialize instead of being segregated.”

Then I remember that I have the advantage of having so many dedicated parents who have sent their children to camp before me. I have the privilege of being a camp director and seeing how the girls at our camp have claimed independence without worrying about how they look when they try something new. I remember how my husband and I watched our six year old son come home from his first summer at camp a confident, independent kid who learned to negotiate with his bunk mates and make new friends…all without me being there to facilitate.

It was not until becoming a parent and sending my son Ronan to camp that first summer that I fully understood the dedication of parents who choose camp for their children. I had previously understood the benefits of camp from a professional point of view. What I hadn’t fully grasped was the heartache and devotion of camp parents in providing camp to ensure their children’s total development and well-being. Camp parents realize that sending their child to camp provides an opportunity for their children to experience life independently; to try on the values we teach and model for them at home in an environment away from our reminders (or as my son refers to it, nagging). Camp allows them to experience and learn skills that are beyond archery or skiing.

As parents our hearts miss our children desperately. But, our heads prevail around this time of year as we say our goodbyes knowing that our children’s camp experience will allow them the opportunity to build the structure of how they want to live on the foundation we’ve started at home.