I have been to camp myself, back in the days of latrines and mosquitoes that could carry off small children and I enjoyed it. Having only pretty decent memories of times living in canvas tents on wood platforms.
I left my son at camp – where he learned sailing for a week and he loved it. He was so eager to go and have me leave him I almost felt unloved. Living on an old metal ship on a river, small shifts due to tides and winds adding to the old maritime fun. Eating at a restaurant called the Galley. Sure he had to wear khaki shorts and real shirts … but he survived and lorded it over my daughter.
My daughter was a completely different story. Because of a slight miscalculation we actually arrived at camp a half hour early and we listened to an audio book. We were listening about a runaway king who had his leg broken and was in manacles and fell asleep while in manacles with his leg broken and he slept four hours sleeping in his manacles in a mostly standing position. He then woke up and convinced his cell-mates to help him get the pin out of his boot so he could pick the locks and break a chair to splint his leg. Does anyone see the problem of this situation? Other than a teenage king who was in prison to begin with? It is a great book series but the lead character doesn’t seem to be the brightest bulb in the world, until the end when it all miraculously works out and you say … how did that happen, but he knew what he was doing ALL along. So there I am stopping the story while we sit in the driveway of the Girl Scouts camp and saying to my children … always splint a broken bone immediately. The longer you wait, the more the tissue will be damaged and the swelling will be worse. See, I have learned something in my Emergency Medical Responder course! Yes indeed my kids and I have uplifting discussions about broken bones and compound fractures where you splint the bones in the way you found them … not in the way you want them to be. My daughter turned a strange color on that one.
So — they finally open the gate … my daughter is in the unit Birch Valley. We go in and talk to these people … and then get passed to those people … do we want a photo for ten dollars, oh sure, why not. Despite the fact that my daughter brought two pillows saying that she would make no friends and just hug the pillows all week — the pillows who would be her only friends.
I hold her hand and try to convince her that she really will have fun. She really will make friends — maybe not bosom buddies that she will stay in contact all her life… but friends she can hang with for a week. Nowadays with Google+ and email, you never know, maybe they will become bosom buddies, I know I am not in contact with anyone today that I met at camp, but that was back in the days of the Pony Express.
So we were escorted to the unit with only the carry on baggage. Her big bag would be delivered later by trailer. She had her pillows and her back pack. She was the first camper and was very clingy. I had told her many times that I had to be at work and so we would have to leave and couldn’t stay, but as we turned to leave I felt devastated. Really? How could I leave my baby all alone with a bunch of strangers? What kind of mother was I? But I do know in my heart that she is going to enjoy herself. She will learn new things and really what was her question? Will I get mail? Did Gma send me letters? I think she will be pleasantly surprised by how many letters she gets …
I helped her make an address book. I had received a pretty little notebook from a vendor at BEA (Book Expo America) — it had a Chinese print on it. I told her to look in the Rolodex and write down addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of important people that she thinks she will write to. I only gave her eight stamps — I asked if she thought that would be enough. She seemed to think so … if not, she can buy more stamps. She loved the fact that I got Harry Potter stamps for her enjoyment. I saved the Severus Snape stamp for my letter to her …
I met two counselors … I don’t even remember names, but one was from New Zealand. That was pretty cool. The counselor doesn’t like spiders so Lillian said she would help get the spiders out of her cabin if she had any. My son laughed uproariously, for he is usually asked to perform that duty at home. I guess when she has a big brother around, she doesn’t need to feel as strong as when her friend is wigging out about have spiders around. I had to leave, it was 3 o’clock, and she hugged and whined. I told her to talk to the counselors — to tell them about the last book she read. Her last book was – “Breaking Free” about girls who escaped sexual slavery… another uplifting moment in the lives of the Steinmayers!
I walked away with my son … and I felt like a bad mother and yet better doing short doses now than never letting her experience this independence until college. She CAN survive, she will have fun, kids have been going to camp for more than a century … yet I still feel like I abandon my child … how is that possible?