Summer camp

Lisa Ingebrand,

It’s the quietest week of the year—at least, at my house.

Our 10-year-old Ellen is off having the time of her life at summer camp.

She looks forward to the week-long adventure all year.

Not 10 minutes after I picked her up from Camp Omega last year, she spouted: “Mom, it’s the BEST place ever. I wish I could go for a month!”

This is Ellen’s third summer attending a program at the Christian camp in rural Waterville. She attended her first Camp Omega program—a two-night getaway—as a first grader. Of course, I was nervous dropping her off for that first camp stay, but she did great. (After getting herself settled into her bunk space, she turned to me and said: “It’s okay, mom. You can leave now.”)

It breaks my heart a little to have her away from home for so many days, but I know she longs for the freedom. She craves it, and in some ways, I believe she needs it.

She needs the space to grow and be challenged without mom, dad or big sister watching, commenting or correcting.

She needs the interactions with new kids and late-night bunkbed conversations.

She needs her own adventure.

I get it.

Some of my favorite childhood summer-time memories are tied to week-long Girl Scout camps and other parent-free adventures. I enjoyed many days and nights at Singing Hills Girl Scout Camp throughout grade school. I loved the camp songs and all the crafts and was a proud member of the Polar Bear Club, a group that got up early for a quick, refreshing dip in the lake, but what I loved most was the feeling of independence.

I always left camp feeling empowered, knowing I had successfully tackled a variety of challenges, including some rather uncomfortable social situations (there are always a few) and physical challenges.

I see this in Ellen.

She longs to see what she can do and is just starting to realize that she can do so much!

I know she’ll encounter issues at camp. Maybe she’ll clash with one of her cabin mates or stumble during a game or maybe she’ll not like a few of the meals and go hungry, but she’ll figure it out.

The week away from home gives her the breathing room to make mistakes and do her own problem solving (with the guidance of camp counselors).

Come Friday, when I pick her and her friends up from camp, she’ll be brimming with stories and smiling. She’ll probably sing camp songs on our drive home and will demand that I inspect and admire each and every one of her camp crafts.

She’ll be a little more confident and proud of herself for everything she accomplished and learned at camp, which will make me pretty darn happy and proud, too.



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