Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sleepaway camp

The big kids went to a 3-day, 2-night sleep away camp this past week.

The camp was about 3.5 hours from our house and drop-off was 10AM.  We opted to drive up Wednesday and stay in a rented cabin at a nearby campground that night, rather than having to leave our house at 6AM with two very nervous kids and a grouchy August.  Wednesday was full of fun and occasional nervous panics.  Thursday morning the kids loaded up their gear again, and we drove over to their camp in a state of complete fear on the part of the kids.  I was nervous, too, but only about the kids freaking out and crying; not at all about their safety or potential for having a fantastic time.

Jorge's Cabin
We tried to get there as early as possible so they could get settled in.  As we pulled in, a counselor approached each car to ask if the arriving camper was a boy a girl and then directing them toward the appropriate half of the parking areas.  When we said we had both, our guide kindly checked the sheet, told us exactly which cabin each kid was in, and directed us where to park.  This little tip-off meant that as soon as we got out of the car, we could head for the cabins and choose bunks.  Everyone else had to park in the boy or girl section but then wait in a very long line to check their kids in with the nurse before getting their specific cabin assignments.  Despite arriving at 10 AM exactly, we would have been at least 40 families deep in the line; ensuring our kids the last choice bunks by the time we got the details from the nurse.  Thanks to the tip, Katie and Jorge were each the third kid (of about 8) to arrive in their respective cabin and each got their first choice of bunks: top bunk; good ladders; nice location relative to windows, doors, and counselor bunks.  Having the bunks set up took the edge off for everyone: this was happening.  It was real.

Katie was extremely nervous the morning of drop-off.  She kept insisting that she was sick and shouldn't go; or that she just didn't want to go.  She cried a bit as we were setting up her bunk, but kept brave-facing through.  I assured her that after we got checked in and it was time for the parents to go, if she was still so scared, we'd grab her stuff and run through the woods until no one would find us.  Then we'd sneak back together and sleep in the boats.  As we waited to check-in with the nurse, we met a handful of young girls; by the time we got through the line they were fast friends and running off to make sure they had bunks within whispering distance.  At the bugle, she ran off to join her bunk mates in an orientation exercise with hardly a glance backwards.

Jorge was less obvious about his nerves.  He goes into a zombie-style spaced-out zone when scared (assuming he doesn't go into a clowning mode or a whining melt-down mode).  He was practically running into walls, dropped everything, had to be asked or told things four times before they could permeate the fog, and generally was staring around like it was an alien abduction.  He met his cabin counselors as we checked in, and relaxed a little.  He, too, ran off to join the gang when the announcement was made to form into cabin groups.

We retrieved them Saturday after lunch.  I knew we were in a different kind of trouble when I got there, saw Katie, and waved a cheerful 'hello'.  She sighed and turned her back.  It was the coldest reception I've ever gotten from her!  She cried about having to leave and asked if she could just stay for the next week worth of camp (8-15 year olds go for a whole week Sun-Sat; we signed her up for the 6-8 year old 1/2 week which was Thurs-Sat of this one week of the entire year).  As we sat on the benches saying goodbyes and hearing about their week from the perspective of the counselors, Jorge snapped out of his zombie-stare to ask "Can we come back here next summer?"

"Absolutely!"

He exhaled a huge breath and grabbed Katie's arm.  "She said yes!"  She lit up and grabbed him back in a big hug.  Happy Campers.

(More pictures coming soon when we get the kids' disposable cameras developed)

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