I never went to a sleep-over sort of summer camp until I attended the Governor’s School for Agricultural Sciences just before my senior year in high school. So I admit I was a bit reluctant to send my kids to a week-long summer camp when my husband first suggested it. Who needed summer camp? We did all those camp activities as a family anyway. And a week of summer camp isn’t cheap, either.
But my husband, who had done those sorts of camps as a kid was insistent, and the kids were eager, so four years ago we packed them off to camp for a week.
We’ve been doing it every summer since, and they’re agitating to go to the spring and fall school holiday camps, too.
And I have been won over to the idea of sleep-over summer camp.
Every year, the kids leave camp exhausted, but bubbling over with excitement. Full of stories about what they did (some of which we as parents really don’t want to know about), what they ate, and who they knew from the previous year.
They come home sunburnt, bruised, and smelly, with band-aids on their knees. They come home having worn the same socks for a week and not having combed their hair since they left.
I know there are tears at camp. Frustration. Loneliness. Injuries.
But the kids come home older and more confident than when they left. They stand taller. They take more responsibility for themselves.
So, though I may jokingly say that we send the kids to camp so we can have a break, that’s not really why.
We send the kids to camp so they can struggle and succeed, so they can push themselves, be someone new, learn to create a community from strangers, and explore the world with new friends and mentors.
Of course, the week off is really nice…