I'm a big fan of the phenomenon of “camp.”
Camp, as I’ve known it so far with my son, doesn’t look anything like the camps I knew as a kid — involving two weeks spent away in the woods in rustic cabins with counselors, swim buddies and campfire songs.
To me, modern-day camp is day camp — a glorious (if somewhat costly) invention created to help parents work full-time during June, July and August while still having their children close to home, occupied and maybe even “enriched.”
Day camp is like daycare on steroids with awesome themes (think everything from LEGO Star Wars to Cupcake Wars), amazing activities (Adventures in Cardboard comes to mind) and even overnight-esque day camps that are actually held in the wilderness and include traditional camp activities like singalongs, canoeing and horseback riding (Camp Christmas Tree by the YMCA).
All these camps, many of which my son has attended during the past four years, have the distinct advantage of allowing your kid to come home at night.
Here’s the thing about this year, though.
My son is now 9, soon to be 10.
And, during the past few years, I’ve talked to fellow parents who have sent their kids away for not one week away at camp, but two or three or FOUR.
And guess what? They loved it!
But I can’t imagine sending my kid away for that long! Away from his mom AND dad!
Sure, the parents I talked to said their kids struggled at first, but then they fell in love and grew as humans.
In this magazine — our annual Camp Issue! — there’s a story about packing for camp in which one mom talks about her son’s week at camp.
It turns out he wore the same underwear and socks ALL WEEK because he didn’t see the zippered pocket his mom had filled with these items.
Did reading this help me feel more confident?
But the writer mom dives into the issue of parental control, too: Let go, she says.
“If your child calls crying for you to come and get him, steel yourself and repeat that you’re confident in his ability to manage. Then speak to the head counselor to assess the situation. This happened to us the first year our son attended camp. But he worked through it (so did Mom and Dad) and he felt quite proud and independent when he completed his first week at camp.”
Independence. That’s what overnight camp is all about, right?
I know she’s right. Now I just need to find the right camp.
Thank goodness I have this issue.
I hope you find it useful, too, as you navigate your summer planning — no matter what path you choose.