Confessions of a First Time Camp Mom: Departure Day

8.11.17 by

By: Hallie Grodin


T minus just a few hours until my son comes home from his first summer at camp. I CAN NOT BELIEVE IT. 7 weeks has flown by.

I am BEYOND excited, like certifiable can’t sit still, possibly worse than visiting day excited. We’ve all been feeling it a little more lately… while the 7 weeks has flown by, it’s also a long time. The kids keep asking how many more days until Jack will be home. The plans are starting – what will we do with him when he is back, what do we want to show him that he has missed, etc. While I have an overwhelming sense of needing our family to be whole again, I also remember my last days of camp each summer and see the pictures of him having the TIME OF HIS LIFE during color war, etc. and I am so beyond sad for him. The end of camp SUCKS, there is no better way to phrase it. Thinking about departure day for myself instantly brings tears to my eyes and I haven’t done it in 20+ years. I actually feel bad for him that we got to have 8 weeks and he only gets 7 – of course I want him home, but I also get it, I understand the magic of camp. And I have no doubt based on the conversations we have had and the pictures I have seen, that he too finally has had the chance to see and feel for himself the true magic of camp. I was just talking to my mom on the phone and we were talking about Jack coming home – what food should we buy, what meals should we plan, what should we do etc. and she said “I’m just a little worried he is going to come home a teenager” (note: he is 9). I laughed but completely agree. He has had an experience like no other. He has had to fend for himself (with the help of course of amazing counselors and staff) for 7 weeks straight and with that comes a new sense of maturity. As excited as I am to see him, I also fear re-entry. I remember myself, it isn’t easy to go from that feeling of complete freedom back in to your home with your parents rules, your siblings (their presence, love AND torture), the reality of summer coming to a close.

I expect all the feels – the excitement of seeing his family again, the sadness of camp being over, the sheer exhaustion from these final days of camp, the happiness and the depression. I’m prepared and ready for it all and will be waiting with tears of excitement as well as sadness for what it all signifies. But first enjoy these last few days at camp as they are some of THE BEST. I remember looking back on those days after returning from camp and always feeling guilty that I was not truly myself with my family, that they were always SO EXCITED to see me and the feeling wasn’t necessarily completely mutual. But now as a mom I get it – there is no greater gift you could give your child. Will it sting if he isn’t over the moon to see us like we are him, of course it will, but it will also be for the BEST possible reason…because we gave him one of the most amazing gifts you could ever give a child, the magic of sleepaway camp.

Hugs to all you parents out there and all your little ones returning home so soon….this is one heck of a ride and I can’t wait to do it all over again next summer!

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