For all but four weeks a summer, I was an only child. My house was quiet. I had my own bathroom and bedroom. I never had to vy for attention from my parents. I never had to share, compete, or complain about unfairness. Friends would tell me how lucky I was, how horrible their own siblings were, and that they would trade places with me in an instant.
Yet from my perspective, I often found life as an only child boring, my house too quiet, and my adult-centered world somewhat stifling.
I lived for camp. Camp was busy. Camp was noisy. Camp offered me 10 sisters as cabin mates, and we spent every minute together. There was a full table at meals, and 300 campers and staff sang Happy Birthday to me every year. There was always someone to play with. We swam together, sang camp songs together, walked around arm-in-arm, and cried when the summer ended. I loved every minute.
Over the last twenty years, the number of women opting to have only one child has doubled. Only-child families are the fastest growing families in the U.S. A lot of those kids will be just like me and will thrive in the right camp setting. They will learn life skills that siblings naturally develop, gain independence and coping strategies, and will love being part of a pack. I had wonderful parents who provided an amazing childhood, but of all the incredible opportunities they offered, I’m most grateful that they sent me to camp.