“Can I go to camp for two months this summer? Please; pretty please. I’ll pay for my plane ticket…”
The begging began as soon as camp ended last summer (when they went for only one month) and finally wore down my resistance. (They actually wore me down even earlier but I had to at least pretend I had some say in the decision!) But other than the fact that I would miss them and that it would make it big dent in our bank balance (okay, the latter is a legitimate concern), why wouldn’t I send them? The benefits are so dramatic, especially for the kids from Los Angeles who start with a trip across the country to that famous home of Jewish camp sites, the Catskills.
Starting with that plane ride, camp helps teach independence (even though I bought the roll of quarters and the soap, they actually do their own laundry!). They are given the opportunity to broaden and deepen their circle of friends (some of my children made their closest lifelong friends at summer camp) and to participate in the larger community.
Camp also offers more exercise than during the school year, when walking to the car and back seems to be the extent of it!. But most of all camp provides spirit.
School, even the most wonderful one, can sometimes be dull. It can be hard. It can be stressful. Even when the learning is engaging, the need to study for tests or write papers may overwhelm the pleasure. The constant work – the quizzes, the presentations, the reports, the final exams – may leave even the most enthusiastic child a little burnt out, a little drained.
Camp is the ultimate refresher. It’s about song and dance and plays and games. There is learning but no tests. It’s all about the joy.
Everyone needs rejuvenation, even our children. And while yes, sleep-away camp is a luxury, I have found it is worth digging deep for. So even though I was actually sad to let them go for two months (I was sad; they barely glanced back!) I know that it is for their good. And even though it’s fun, it’s the kind of fun that nourishes the body and soul and brings them home ready for a new year of learning.
We’ve had some rough bouts of homesickness (these turned out to be the kids who cried the most when camp ended and went back year after year!) and some kids who are just not the “camp type.” But for those who are, I envy their experience (what about a camp for adult women?). And while I miss them, I know they are having a great time (and learning and growing in ways not available in the classroom). I can tell, because they are too busy to call…(What Ima? Wait in those long phone lines???)