To all the mamas sending your first babies off to camp today…
I talked to you at church today and saw a flash of panic in your eyes; does he even know how to shower? Has she ever put a ponytail in by herself? What if they fall off their bunk and out of the window? Will someone be with them if they have to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night?
And guess what mom? Your kids do need you, but not nearly as much as you think. They are able to keep themselves alive and eat solid food, and at kid’s camp, that is enough. Now cleanliness, that is another story…have you ever smelled a child after a week at camp?
As for packing, you can do everything you want to try to keep them organized: put their clothes in Ziplocs labeled with the day; include a plastic bag for dirty clothes and wet swimsuits, take photos of outfits and put them in their duffle, but they will probably come home with all clean underwear because they are still wearing the pair that they came in.
You will most likely embarrass them by making up their bed with dinosaur sheets and their favorite stuffed animal and by snaking an extension cord across the room so the box fan that you brought will blow gently on them while they sleep (so they don’t overheat).
You might, like I did, even decide to write them daily notes and include a photo album in their bags to ensure them that all is well with the world. In my mother-thought, I assumed this would give great comfort to my first-born as he made his first long journey away from me. On the drive home, when I asked him if he liked the notes I wrote him, he said, “ I don’t know. I never opened them.”
You will think about them every single day and the week will drag on endlessly and you will ache to have them home doing regular things like unloading the dishwasher or feeding the pets or giving you kisses at bedtime. And when you pick them up, your heart will explode because they will have SURVIVED! And not only that, they will chat you up with all of the stories of the amazingness that was camp, and all of the things they learned…without you by their side.
So, scared mamas, please let your child go and live apart from you for a few days in the hands of capable and loving counselors. They will be FINE. They will grow in CONFIDENCE. And God will teach them about HIMSELF in His own—and their own—special way.
It’s a really hard thing to release our kids. And it’s even harder to see them become independent…and not need us as much. But it’s how they grow. And it’s how we start to learn to let go. It’s the natural way of things—God’s way—and it’s right.
So now, go! Take them off to camp and tell them how much fun they are going to have and that you are so proud of them and that you will be just fine.
‘Cause you will; it just takes a little practice to let go…and a lot of trust in your good, good Father. I get it.
Just know, I am praying for you.
And I think you are very brave.
Happy camp week 2016!