It’s your child’s first full week away at summer camp. You’ve spent hours packing his footlocker and day pack and the big day is here. You’ve made sure to get him all the cool camping gear that he will need over the week. You pull into the campground, the sun is high, and everyone is filling in for registration. Children and adults are everywhere. Some people are carrying bags to their bunks, some prepping for the swim test, some standing by socializing and catching up after a whole year. The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of paperwork, fees, shopping list. Now the day is here and you have so many things; Where is the bunk? I hope they have a nice roommate. Will he be homesick? Have we remembered to pack everything? The bug spray? Sunscreen? …Underwear? Before you know it, drop off is complete and you are being shuffled out, waving goodbye and still worrying.
Surviving their First Week of Summer Camp
Well, my fellow moms and dads, this is where it’s time for our cool camping gear list comes in. I could be writing the typical post about how to prepare your kids for leaving home. Or creating checklists about what they should pack. But this time, I decided that it was the parents that needed the checklist. As parents, especially mothers, we tend to worry about our children spending time away from home. We want to raise them to be independent, but it is the letting go part that can be so challenging. So today, I am going to let you in on a little secret. They are more prepared than you think!! So with that in mind, after all the bags are dropped off and you’re lying awake staring at the ceiling wondering if they are OK, I want you to take a deep breath and follow my cool ‘camping’ gear list to prepare yourself for the week ahead.
Mom’s Cool Camping Gear List
1. Get yourself a big bottle of wine.
Or beer, or bourbon, whatever your drink of choice may be. You have had your nerves fried over the last few weeks with all the pressure you’ve put on yourself to make sure he had everything he needed, and met all of the requirements needed just to get to camp. So take a load off and drink a nice glass of your favorite beverage because this cool camping gear item will soothe your soul… and your nerves.
2. Get four pieces of paper and a pen.
Two of these papers are for now, two are for later. Now take two of the papers and sit down with your glass of wine. With these two pages you will write two letters; one to him/her, and one to you.
a. On their letter, tell them how proud you are of them. Tell him that you hope they are having the most fun they can have (while following the rules, of course 😉 Or tell them how brave they were to stay there without you. This letter should say anything and everything you wish you would have heard from your parents when you were heading off to your first year at camp. Then address it to him/her and stick in the mail the next day.
I hope he meets some wonderful friends.
I hope she’s learns some independence
b. One the second letter I want you to address it to yourself. Write down everything you are feeling; the good, the bad, the ugly. Let out all your worries about their experience and leave it on that paper. Next, write down all your hopes for them in this experience. Next, if you have a safe place for a fire, you should take the letter you just wrote and burn it. Release all your worries, fears, and hopes and let go. Release it to the Universe, to God, to whatever higher power you believe in and have faith that everything will be just fine.
c. The next two letters are to be written upon their return home from camp. One is letter to the older version of your son or daughter. This is a letter for when they are going off to college and perhaps getting a little nervous or homesick. This letter should remind them of how they felt before going and what you saw in them upon their returning home and should give them encouragement that the unknown is but an opportunity to grow.
d. The final letter is a letter to your future self. This letter should be kept sealed to read the next summer, prior to summer camp, as you start to find yourself in another craze. Sit down with a glass of wine and read about their excitement upon coming home. Read about how much they had grown and matured in a week, the year before. Let this letter serve as a reminder of what an amazing experience you are providing your child, by letting them go for a short time.
3. Grab a calendar and your bucket list.
This is the coolest of the cool ‘camping’ gear items, if you ask me, because ladies and gentlemen, having adventures isn’t only for the kids!! You have a week off! Take this opportunity to try something new yourself. It can be as big or small, as many or as few as you’d like. Just don’t sit around moping and wondering if your son or daughter is having a good time. Don’t let all of your free time go to work, take at least one afternoon and do something you’ve always wanted to do. Trust me, not only will it keep you occupied, but it’ll reinvigorate your passion for life!
4. Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy the Quiet
The week will be over before you know it! So now that you’ve had a few moments to collect, and release your thoughts. You have enjoyed a glass of your favorite beverage, and planned at least 1 fun event for yourself, sit back and relax for the evening. A week at summer camp does just as much for the parents as it does for the child. The children learn to handle independence, and how to socialize with their peers. They learn that their parents don’t need to always do things for them, and that they are capable of doing some things on their own. All while teach us parents, especially us Moms, that it’s OK to let go, not all together, but at least loosen our grip for a little while.
Summer Camp Truths
Moms and Dads, I promise you; your kids will be absolutely, 100%, perfectly fine! They will have an amazing and life altering experience. they will make memories that will last forever, and they will come back changed people. Yes they are growing up. And yes it can be hard to let go. But now is the time to the loosen the rope slightly. You can see how they do testing the waters. Let them make their mistakes now, while you are still close by. So if needed, you can help guide them, and teach them how to learn from it, and how to make better choices next time. So gather your cool camping gear items and get started!