Just when we thought nothing could be worse than 2020, along came 2021! There were many days (weeks?) this year that felt just as challenging as some of the dark times of 2020, as we navigated the constantly-changing landscape of the pandemic. We continued to worry about its impact on ourselves, and more acutely, on our kids. Did their social lives suffer? How far behind are they academically? What happened to my carefree, worry-free child? I have had all these same concerns over the last year.
However, when I look back on 2021 and to the times when my kids really thrived, my mind immediately goes to their summer experiences and some images I will not soon forget:
- Dropping my 14-year old off at Newark Airport to fly to Portland, Oregon for the start of a three-week teen backpacking trip – I could sense her feelings of freedom, independence, and anticipation.
- Seeing the pure joy on her face when we saw a post from the summit of Mount Saint Helens – the pride of accomplishment, personal growth, overcoming physical and mental challenges on the way to the top – all were evident.
- Photos of her with friends from around the country – kids being kids without the pressures of social media.
- Camp drop-off on a hot day in July – watching as they reunited with friends not seen since 2019, as if no time had passed at all.
- My 11 year old’s first letter home from sleep away camp in which she declared she was having “the best time EVER”, had already waterskied, jumped off the tower, and hoped the weeks would never end.
- Camp pick-up and the drive home – the kids chattering away in the back seat, singing camp songs, and looking healthy and happy from weeks spent outdoors.
I frequently think back to those images from Summer 2021. They are a reminder that through summer camp and summer teen trips we can still fill our kids’ lives with adventure, laughter, and joy even in difficult times.