When the words “summer camp” are uttered, there is much that gets wrapped up around them. Glee and excitement in some kids, sheer terror in other kids. They can be places of immense freedom and personal growth and can build independence when they are of the overnight variety. Laura Clydesdale wrote an excellent post on the virtues of summer camp that you can read here.
For the parents of kids attending overnight camp there is also a great deal wrapped up in those words. Initially there is the stress of booking the right time, ensuring friends can be in the same cabin, searching for all the bits and pieces that were last year’s camp trunk and then sourcing all the new replacements for this year’s camp trunk. We fret about the weather, the friends our kids will make, how safe they’ll be and if they will enjoy themselves. Finally we deliver them to their home away from home and depart (in some cases amidst an outpouring of tears – theirs, and perhaps sometimes ours), back to life with just the two of us.
The early days of overnight camp awesomeness are immediately evident. The pleading, negotiating, bickering and nagging – all gone! Meals can be made with spices that allow the food to taste interesting. TV can be watched at ridiculous hours. Our bedtime routine revolves around ourselves, not someone else. Bliss.
And then, it happens. Despite yearning for peace and quiet and the ability to do what we want, when we want, it starts to feel empty. The house feels empty. There isn’t as much dirt to sweep up, yelling to shush and food to haggle over. When we first became parents we had no idea what was expected of us or what we were supposed to do. As time wore on, roles got more clearly defined. Now, there is a purpose in what we do. We derive great joy from experiencing life through and with our kids and when they’re not there, well, I suppose I just don’t feel whole.
So, hurry up camp and bring my kids back.
But first I’ll just finish Stranger Things…