Words cannot describe how much I miss summer camp. I am a summer camp junkie. I attended summer camp, then worked at two summer camps. I spent my endless summer of 1995-96 graduating from college, working at summer camp, working at a resort in the South Pacific, then back to California for my final summer as a camp director. Sniff. It was a great 18 months.
Summer camp - when done right - is a place where everyone finds their inner cool self. There are no geeks at summer camp. No kid without a posse. It's the job of counselors and support staff to make sure that even the quirkiest child finds his niche. Every child dances on Friday night. Every kid gets a starring role in the camp fire skit. Lifelong memories are created in arts and crafts (dreamweavers today, kids!), the showers (cold!), and chatting during rest time.
The Spouse was not a summer camp attendee. He does not understand the comraderie that comes from sleeping under the stars at the lake or playing a color war. He does not understand the innate coolness that comes with sporting a tie dyed shirt you made and a ribbon braided into your hair. He was profoundly confused when I told him that I wanted to fly cross country next year - with the children - to attend a summer camp reunion and he could come. Or not. To see people I haven't seen in nearly 20 years.
As a parent, I both cheer and worry for the day when Batman and Robin are old enough for sleep away camp. I can't wait for them to start off on that adventure. It will foster independence. They will meet best friends that they might only see two weeks out of the year. They will learn the camp fire songs that still echo in my head - and we can sing rounds in the car!! But I worry about the scruples of the camp staff, the screening of the counselors, the oversight, and a million other things. Yet, I know that the experience of summer camp is a ritual for the parents as well as the children. A lesson in letting go, temporarily, but practicing for the empty nest.
I have put us on the waiting list for a slot at the Tyler Place, a family camp in Vermont. The Spouse went along with it only because the children's programs will bring us a few hours of quiet per day. For him. I will be at the archery range, or maybe tie dying a shirt. And I'm certain there will be a ribbon braided in my hair.
If someone offered me a job today, I would be sorely tempted to shuck my family and responsibilities in return for s'mores, singing, and skits around the campfire.
Goodnight Apache, Goodnight Red Barn.