Like with everything else in life, folks don’t know how something will impact them until it is experienced firsthand. My mom gave me a great quote while I was pregnant, and I still carry it with me every day: “making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” (E. Stone). I am experiencing this for the first time in a big way after dropping off our daughter for her first summer camp. She has been away from home often for sleepovers, but never a full week and never without contact. I had no idea how hard this would be; and, I am clearly not ready for her to go to college in 8 years! I know she is with a great group of counselors but the not being able to connect with her in this age where we talk throughout the day everyday by text or Facetime, no matter our location, makes this very tough.
This disconnect in our digital world drives interesting growth opportunities. She did turn off the laptop, Kindle and iPhone upon exiting the car for a solid week of no air conditioning, no TV, no electronics and a group of kids she does not know. My anxieties aside, I am very curious to hear what she learns in her first bout with independence from home and technology.
Each year more than 7,000 overnight camps are enjoyed by more than 5 million children according to the American Camp Association – wow. In addition to meeting new people, I hope she is stretched to learn to do new things like light a campfire, or the joy of quiet nights with no air conditioning blocking the sounds of crickets. Even the everyday reminders to shower or brush her teeth will not happen this week, and it will be all on her to stay healthy and clean. And I hope she enjoys valuable experiences that continue to build confidence and make her more independent.
One piece of that independence is that she will be managing her own financial decisions this week. While her budget is not large – $40, it will be all on her to decide when to spend money on a soft drink or snack or t-shirt vs. giving more to the mission offering as part of the camp’s philosophy. I will be anxious to hear how she prioritizes her spending without the parents to offer their opinions. I have heard mixed overnight camp reviews – what say other parents who have suffered my sleepless nights this week?