What Summer Camp Is Really Like … For Moms

Summer CampOn Sunday I packed up my brand new sixth grader with a duffle bag and a sleeping bag (both pink), drove two hours into the mountains, and dropped her off with a warning to watch our for bears. I'll be back in a week to see if she survives.

Because holy crap -- I just dropped my firstborn daughter off at junior high sleep-away camp. Don't you love those parenting milestones that just sort of sneak up and punch you in the neck with the reality that your kids are growing up way too dang fast?


This was definitely one of them. You think you're prepared for it -- you know it's coming, you maybe even dream about your child experiencing something that you enjoyed, and forming their own special memories -- and then wham! You're hit with a thousand different emotions about it.

Here are some of the many stages you'll go through when sending your child to summer camp for the first time.

At some point after Christmas, your tween comes bounding home from school or church or some other program with a flyer, babbling about how awesome this camp is, and how much they want to go, and you have to do a double take, because there's no way your child is old enough to go to sleep-away camp.

And then you get sappy, reminiscing on your own past, and how much fun you had singing kumbaya around the campfire. It was so magical!

Then you see how much it costs.

You bite the bullet and decide to write the check. How could you deny your kid the once in a lifetime opportunity to go to summer camp for the fist time?

Then you realize how many other things you'll have to purchase, because of course the obstacle course costs extra, plus there's the snack shop, and souvenirs, and remember that duffle bag? It wasn't free.

The best moment of getting ready for camp comes after you track down a disposable camera, and have to answer questions like, "How do you take a selfie?" and "Where's the preview?" and "What do you mean I can't delete pictures?"

The big day arrives. Your camper is packed. You load everything into the car, and realize you've made a terrible mistake. Your child is going to die of homesickness and what if she gets bullied or what if she is the bully? Nope, this is not happening after all.

It's too late to back out now. Plus no refunds. You say goodbye. You try not to cry as your child, your own flesh and blood, the being who grew inside you and nursed at your breast -- gives you a hug and kiss, asks for another $20, and says, "See you Saturday!"

She's going to be just fine. You go home and realize you now have a week of overnight childcare. Celebrate accordingly.

Have you sent your kid to sleep-away camp, or do you plan to?


Image via Jenny Erikson

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