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ChildDrenched: Sending Kids off to Camp can be Emotional

Summertime camps away from home can be a mixed blessing for parents. There are good reasons to send kids to camp, despite the hardship on parents.

In honor of summer, a departure from my usual subject, adoption, today’s post may still resonate with my “ChildDrenched” readers who have children.   Summertime brings warmer temperatures and sunnier days, easier schedules and thankfully, no homework.  It also brings camp.  Sending your child off to sleep-away camp can be a very emotionally draining time for parents.  I am about to send my third child away for an extended respite from the luxury of her own bed, technology at her fingertips, and improving  her reading skills.

She’s excited and cannot wait.  I, on the other hand, am nervous, panicking over packing her too much, and worried about homesickness.  I am preparing to be (temporarily) ChildDrenched once again; drowning in the passionate need for MY child.

This isn’t the first time she’s gone to camp, but this will be the longest adventure away from her home, her parents and her brothers.  She doesn’t talk about the homesickness she suffered last summer when it was a mere ten-day camp (and I haven’t reminded her).  I found it painstakingly difficult to resist the urge to go pick her up when I learned how unhappy she was.  This upcoming session will be 18 long days. She’s a year older and should be able to handle it, but I will undoubtedly be struggling to get through it.

Looking back, sending my two boys away to camp was easier.  Their only complaints were about the food, not how much they missed their home.  I was less concerned about how much clothing to pack or how they would keep their hair and body clean.  With my daughter,  I am also more concerned about the “life” experiences that will affect her while at camp.  Now that she’s ten, there are signs of puberty popping up and following her friends is much more important to her these days.  Will she make the right choices at camp, especially around boys?   She doesn’t talk much about them, but I have seen boys looking at her.  My older sons reassure me that boys that age may look, but they have no idea what to do. This is just the beginning of  the “boy issues” that I will worry about while she is gone.

Usually summer days seem to go fleeting by, but I know the days that my daughter is at camp will crawl.  I will be anxiously scanning the camp’s online photo gallery every day looking for her smiling (I hope!) face, which will make me miss her all the more.  I will resist the temptation to complain about the same dirty sweatshirt she is wearing for the fifth day in a row when I packed three others or that her hair doesn’t look washed, or even brushed.  If she is smiling in those pictures, I will be delighted and continue missing her warm hugs and sweet kisses goodnight.

Camp is a good for kids.  It challenges them in emotional and physical ways that they can’t get anywhere else. I am a big fan of building the independence and confidence through sleep-away camp.  I don’t mind paying those hefty fees to send her away happily while her parents remain at home pining away for her, knowing that she will be building friendships and memories that <read more>

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Jeanne Gustafson July 05, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I remember sending my daughter away to camp one summer, along with one of her friends, in that vein of it being great for kids. She wrote long missives home daily and with much homesickness--talk about mother guilt! I was surprised by the reaction, but she made it through the week!
Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery July 09, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I too remember sending my daughter off on her own to camp. The tears stopped flowing by Thursday. The 2nd year they stopped by Monday and the third year she happily went off for her new adventure. Sometimes it works to try Day Camp first. Try one close to home, like the Summer Salmon Camp at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. A great learning experience and you are close at hand should homesickness take over in the middle of the day.

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