Posted by Kirsten Patel, Elementary Mommie-on-the-Run | Posted in The Elementary Mommy-on-the-Run | Posted on 05-07-2012
I started going to sleep away camp the summer before I entered 4th grade. It was a small camp in the Santa Cruz mountains with a focus on the Bible. I knew I wanted my kids to have a sleep away camp experience, but I wanted one without the focus on the Bible (but that is a post for another day).
For the past six years we’ve been vacationing at a little known lake just south of Yosemite. It turns out there is also a summer sleep away camp located right on the lake. We took a little tour last summer and I knew it was exactly the kind of camp I wanted for my kids. From their website:
Skylake is a summer camp where kids experience the slower pace of life of times gone by, where they play all day and just come home for dinner. Our camp counselors strive to create an atmosphere where boys and girls ages 7-15 feel safe as they experience life without mom and dad. Kids discover a special magic feeling that promotes real friendships, opportunities for true growth and development, and memories that last a lifetime.
Exactly. It’s not a camp focused on a specific sport or activity. It’s not focused on religion. It’s an old-fashioned place where they can unwind and rediscover what it’s like to just be a kid in the summer with no obligations.
This past Sunday we took the now familiar four hour drive to the mountains.
Except the drive did not feel familiar at all. I spent the entire four hours telling my girls how much I was going to miss them and how much fun I just knew they were going to have. They spent the entire drive reassuring me that they would miss me too, but they were excited. I reminded them not to buy too much candy at the trading post, where the pre-stamped envelopes were in their luggage, what to do if they couldn’t get to sleep and to seek out new experiences.
As soon as we pulled in the camp driveway, I was glad I was wearing sunglasses. I could feel the tears welling up in my throat. I wasn’t crying because I was going to miss them. After all, I still have Anders at home to keep me busy. I was crying because it was too much. Millions of kids all over the planet attend summer camp, but these two are mine. My little girls who are on the cusp of turning 10 years old. My little girls who I knew would be just fine without me. Better than fine actually, they were about to experience something magical they could not even conceive of yet. I was crying because it’s just too much for me to process.
We quickly met their counselors and discovered that their cabins were right next door to each other. Just as I predicted, Macy chose a bottom bunk and Avery chose a top bunk. I snapped this picture before we walked back to the car.
They look relaxed, happy… ready. But as we were saying good bye they both looked nervous and a little scared. Two weeks is a long time. I felt the tears coming again, so I quickly hugged them both and walked to the car without looking back.
Immediately, I started doubting myself. Did I pack proper footwear, did we label all their underwear, should I have helped them lay out their sleeping bags, is two weeks really too long, are they ready for this, what if their flashlight batteries die???
Everyday I obsessively check the camp website for photos. So far I’ve seen Avery eating some toast. That’s good, she likes toast. And we’ve seen Macy with a ropes course harness on and a huge smile. That’s good, she’s trying something she was afraid of.
I’ll still be holding my breath until July 14th when I can hug them and listen to their stories of summer camp magic for four straight hours.