Is Summer Camp Like College?

Dear moms of college-age kids, I need your help, I need your reassurance — and if your advice is going to make me feel worse, feel free to sugarcoat and omit when necessary. I promise not to hold it against you when my kids actually move out or go to college (God willing).

My daughter just went to her first overnight, week-long summer camp. It was a really big deal because other than sleepovers with extended family, she’s never spent the night away from home. To say she was looking forward to it was beyond an understatement. She talked about it since I signed her up, six weeks before camp. That was my first rookie mistake; I spent the next six weeks having to remind her it wasn’t time for camp yet.

Signing up for camp is a process! Medical records, immunization records, all kinds of questions. I stressed over the application and finally sent it. Then I worried if they received it and whether I’d remembered to order her the camp t-shirt.

The week before camp I realized she didn’t really have “outfits” to take to camp. She’d been wearing whatever, since it was summer. She and I had a girl day, did some shopping and made sure that she had trial size shampoos, etc. We spent the week prepping and the day to leave had come! I could see her anxiety growing but she was trying really hard to stay calm. The camp was a few hours away, so the adventure continued.

We finally arrived and went to the registration room to hear the words, “She’s signed up for week 2 and we don’t have any extra beds this week.” My first thought was, which week is this? Is this not week 2? She pulled out the registration form, after informing me that this was week 3. There it was in black ink, a list of the weeks and my handwriting with 2 written next to the week desired. What had I done? I had checked that form over and over. Then I realized I had filled out the form at home and had made too many errors so I printed and filled out another copy. I had probably sent the wrong copy. Major mom fail! After an hour of waiting, they finally found a solution. An extra cot in the side hallway was offered and the option of returning next week with the proper room setup was the second option.

If my daughter is anything, it’s determined — and when she makes a decision, she goes for it. I love and admire that about her. She had friends at camp that week, and that was it; she decided she was staying. The nervous mom in me wanted her to return next week when she’d have the proper setup, but it wasn’t my choice. I helped her set up her bed and gave her a kiss and headed out.

I had been so excited about her camp experience, remembering my own fond memories of camp. I knew she’d have a wonderful time and could hold her own when she needed to, but as I kissed her good bye, the fear sank in. What if the girls were mean to her? What if she didn’t like camp? Could she call if she got homesick? Is this what it’s like when you drop them off in their college dorms? I remember my dad dropping me off in the dorms, and as he got ready to leave, he suddenly decided he needed to stay longer to make sure my stereo was set up correctly.

So we left her there, and headed out for a camping trip with our sons. Days of anxiety followed. The next morning, I confessed to my husband that I was worried about her. “I know,” he responded quickly and firmly.

I was a little taken aback. “Why do you say that?” I asked.

“It’s all you’ve been talking about.” Apparently I hadn’t been as discreet as I had thought I was being.

Days went by, with no word from our little camper. Now I know how my dad feels when I don’t call him! It’s like she disappeared into thin air. I mean, it’s 2018, how can they expect us to go a week without talking to our children when we’re used to knowing their location at every moment, thanks to technology?

There were times during toddler years and admittedly now during these preteen years that I have stopped to count how many years remain before my kids go away to college. I’ve been known to ask moms, “Do you promise?” when they advise me to “cherish each moment because they grow up quickly.” Now I’m like, don’t go, stay longer, we could build on to the house, I’ll bend curfew, just so long as I know where you are and that you’re safe. How do moms survive them moving out?? I’m starting to think my little worrying heart won’t make it!

Turns out, God took great care of her. She loved every moment and informed me that within two hours of us leaving, she made a deal with another camper to switch beds and she ended up in the regular part of the room with the other girls and got all settled in right away. All that worrying for nothing! Well maybe not nothing, because I learned a big lesson from camp this summer. She’s her own person. God’s got her and it’s about time I learn I can’t protect her from everything. I will continue to instill my “nuggets of wisdom” if I can even call them that and teach her how to be independent. I’ll pray for her to follow His footsteps and savor His real nuggets of wisdom.So moms, will I make it when they go away to college? Will my nerves get the best of me? How do I really trust that He’s got her? Again I remind you, feel free to sugarcoat it. I won’t hold it against you.

Copyright 2018 Courtney Vallejo. All Rights Reserved.
Image Credit: 2018 Courtney Vallejo. All Rights Reserved.

Article originally posted on catholicmom.com