Confessions of a Mom Who Has Never Been to Her Camper's Visiting Day - Summer 365

7.8.22 by

By: Samantha Shinewald

As a camper in the ‘90’s, visiting day was always a highlight of the summer! I remember my parents showing up in their knee length khaki shorts and k-way raincoats, with grocery bags filled with all my favorite foods; my beloved Montreal bagels (IYKYK), new stickers and stationery, maybe a gift for my bunkmates, some new comic books, and more. I would introduce them to my friends and counselors, show them my bed, and then walk them around camp. It was a great day.

When 2020 began, one of my top goals was to find the perfect camp for my daughter, so that she could board the bus in the summer of 2021 ready to begin her camping career.  But as the summer of 2020 rolled around, and camps were not offering tours, we were forced to make the choice, despite never having stepped foot on the grounds. But, after many director calls, and hours spent poring over websites, we made our choice, and decided that seeing the camp through our daughters’ eyes at visiting day 2021 would be better than any director tour…. I think we all know how that went!

Enter Summer 2022… we were hopeful! We made hotel reservations, talked about which favorite foods “needed” to be brought up, which activity she is most excited to show us… but we flew too close to the sun, and it was canceled.

So, now what?

When I sat my daughter down to tell her that visiting day had been canceled (Don’t worry. I wiped away my tears first!), she took a moment to think and then said “I don’t even really know what visiting day is, so… can you take me to my dance class now?”

As many of us have likely realized, visiting day is not about the kids… it’s about us! The expression “Out of sight. Out of mind,” must have been created in reference to kids at overnight camp. Mom and Dad who? Don’t get me wrong, of course they “miss” us – no one rubs their back like we do, or brushes and braids their hair as well… but they are so immersed in their camp world and routine that they barely know what day it is (unless it’s lazy Sunday… because, donuts). It’s always easier to leave than it is to be left. At home we walk by their bedroom, or reach for their favorite food at the grocery store, but for them, it’s a totally new world – and one that we have never been a part of, and maybe don’t really belong in?

So how did my own “perfect”  90’s visiting day end when I was a camper? There was usually at least 1 girl crying, someone else had a tummy ache from too much candy, another girl swore that she was being picked up to go home the very next day… the fallout was real. And for all of you who have experienced a visiting day in this century, can you admit that it hasn’t really changed? Visiting day is tough…but is a world without visiting day tougher? Maybe? I know that each camp has its own “remedy” for the lack of visiting day… some are doing packages, some do facetime, some do phone calls etc. For me, having never experienced visiting day as a parent, and with a child who has never experienced visiting day, our approach is to just let the summer roll on. I won’t write to her and say “Wow, I can’t believe it’s supposed to be visiting day this weekend and I’m not there” – I’ll just treat it like any other normal day. But, just like I would if I were there, I will likely reach out to the camp for a mid-summer check in (aka sanity check!). I will also do my best to (try to) relax, and trust that she is having the time of her life, and that really, she is exactly where she should be.

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