I’m a summer camp advisor and research extensively, right? I visit camps in session and know the directors, right? I chose carefully, right? So why was I feeling bereft as I watched the plane take off for NH with my ten-year-old aboard heading to his first sleep-away camp experience? Because, as the song goes, Letting Go is Hard to Do.
I checked all the pre-camp boxes. I had…
- Written a letter in advance so that there would be mail for him at the first mail call.
- Packed following the packing list sent by the camp with some additional socks (I just couldn’t help myself).
- Gone over with him that his counselors are there for him and what to do if he is worried about something.
- Sent up with him, hidden in his trunk, his favorite small stuffed animal, just in case.
- Included envelopes with our home address labels and stamps on the front.
- Included a few photos of the family.
- Bravely assured him he would love camp.
So why, as I laid in bed that first night, was I agitating over the fact that I had forgotten to tell him to keep his flashlight handy in case he needed to get up to use the bathroom in the night? Then it dawned on me that this is just why summer camp is so very important for our kids. They get to figure things out on their own. Advocate for themselves. Make mistakes and celebrate triumphs without Mom and Dad stepping in.
Independence is calling our kids, and overnight camp is a great way to begin that process. Hard as it might be for the mom left waving goodbye.