“We do want to make it very clear that there are no visitor days at camp during the summer months.”

The lump in my throat progresses to tears as I re-read the new policy at my daughter’s summer camp.

This summer marks the first year my 10-year old daughter, my youngest child, my baby, advances from a two-week camper to a month-long camper.  Her own choice, I feel compelled to add.   She has enjoyed an amazing two-week experience at this all-girls camp over the last 2 summers and begged me, upon turning 10, to allow her stay for a month.  I couldn’t refuse since her older brothers have also been attending an all-boys camp each July.  I could hardly refuse based on my anticipation of aching child-sickness.  I could hardly refuse after the camp director confirmed the fact that many of her other former cabin mates will also make this leap to a full month stay on or around their 10th or 11th birthdays as well.  So, I agreed, always knowing that a mid-month visit was planned (as we do with our sons).

“These [visitor] days were completely unsettling for the new and old campers and resulted in campers spending a day getting settled back into camp life. …we take pride in the fact that our campers are our highest priority and our decisions are made with their best interests in mind”

Okay I get it, but what about MY best interests?  I don’t know why, but it actually never dawned on me when I sent my eldest off to camp in the summer of 2003 that someday all my goslings would waddle off into the wild.   It is now happening.   I do take comfort in knowing that without iPods, cell phones, computers and TV, they’ll come home more accomplished swimmers, trippers, archers, canoeists, kayakers, sailors, bush-crafters, campfire chefs, fishers, horseback riders, basketball/soccer/ball hockey players, climbing wall authorities, aerial rope gurus, mountain bikers, woodworkers, singers, thespians, artists, lapidary aficionados, and environmentalists.  I do know I can’t offer them an equal experience at home (because for one thing, there’s no way I’m cooking for 150 kids, I don’t care how cute they are!) and I realize full well that this experience is a great privilege to them.

It’s just that I have always looked forward to that mid-month visit.  Now, as my baby heads off in July for her first month-long camp experience, that date circled in red on the family calendar is two weeks later than I thought… and I’m a little bit sad.

And I’m little bit worried for her too.  So, when I delicately approached the subject of this new policy with her yesterday at the kitchen table, was she concerned? Was she worried? Was she sad?

Not quite.  She gave a magnificent fist pump carried out with a triumphant “Yes!” she was most decidely not concerned, not worried, not sad.

So, the unwritten, implied final piece of this new policy should also read “…and you parents that don’t like it? Get over it!”

14 Responses to Follow the wild goose flight… Dip, dip and swing…

  • Great post! I can only assume that many of us have had to go through the same camp weening process. Hang in there. The month will go surprisingly fast. I am so thrilled to read your post and find out that kids have a place where electronics are banded…and they still beg to go. Good job mom!

    • No electronics – AND outhouses! Not sure I could do it. I distinctly remember a big change last summer when we dropped off my boys at their camp. For my oldest – it seemed I dropped him off a boy and he came home a young man after spending 5 days canoeing in one of our national parks… amazing.

  • I’m sorry she was so excited about the new policy…but that’s probably the way she should respond, right? She sounds normal, and ready and perfectly prepared for this next rite of passage. I bet it’s probably right that you’re not quite ready yourself, but maybe this is your chance to come out on the other end of July with your own new perspective too. Hang in there! MMF

    • Thanks Meagan… I am helping a friend edit her memoir (well, really a story of her immigrant parents so more a biography I guess!) while the kids are away and hope that it will give me inspiration to work on one of my own 🙂

  • As a British Citizen I will admit I understand nothing about the whole camp/cottage/time away from parents thing. A couple of my children went to camp for a week a couple of times, but that was it. As for a 10 year old being sent away for a month (as in a twelvth of their entire year), all I can say is: ‘Only in North America!’

  • Wow! You are a brave mama. I don’t think I could do it. Heck, I miss MY mom if I don’t see her for a month. 🙂

    • You know, my husband laughs when I write letters and prepare care packages before they’ve even left – just so they get them in their first week at camp 🙂
      …but it’s an activity that keeps them close to me!

  • Yikes! I hope you have a lot of things planned to do that indulge your non-mommy status while the kids are away. Both of mine are going to a week-long camp this summer for the first time and I know I’ll spend the first two days walking in circles around the house looking for them. And then I’ll probably finish off the week by scouring their rooms until they sparkle – hoping they’ll be undyingly grateful when they get home. 😉

    • Yes Kario – this will be my oldest’s 8th summer at camp and I still dread ‘the first two days’ and am a crazy woman the last 2 days. My husband and are are celebrating our 20th this month so we do have a week-long getaway planned. One summer, we completely redid the boys’ bedroom while they were gone, and their reaction was worth waiting for! If all goes well with my daughter this summer, I shall do the same with her bedroom next summer 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and good luck to you and your kids with their camp adventures!

  • Sounds like you have given her the confidence in herself that all great mama’s hope to give their goslings…and that its time to nurture that beautiful wide-open heart of yours in any and all ways that you can. From afar, my heart smiles for yours. Bittersweet beautiful life.

  • Astra, I can imagine how hard it must be for you to go through an entire month without seeing your child. When the Son was thirteen, he went on a school sponsored trip and was gone for four days. I kid you not when I tell you I thought the Significant Other was going to have to call the paramedics when I was unable to reach the Son via cell phone the first night. I felt my heart beating too fast, my breathing shallow and that I would pass out at any minute. I must’ve called the cell phones of every one of his friends and when I finally reached him the first thing he said to me was, “I hope you’re happy at having turned me into an outcast. Everyone think I’m a mama’s boy and that you’re crazy. Are you satisfied?” And Astra, yes I was. 🙂

  • Of course you were Bella! Thanks for that!!
    Daughter did come back to me a few hours later and asked, “Do I need to write you two letters a week instead of one?” so I’m glad she recognized this as my issue not hers. So I answered, “only if you have time, sweetie.” This national postal strike better be resolved soon – that’s all I have to say 🙁

  • Ah, planning ahead of time for the ’empty nest’ as you said. I admire your planning in preparation for the big event. I am going cold turkey ( as you know). Of course, she isn’t concerned about the new policy, she’s all about the moment, making friends, having fun, being a kid and trying new things. Remember when you did that…? I feel for you in a big way given my impending journey to drop off my oldest at college. Be still my thundering heart..

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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