Grayson, my oldest, just returned a few days ago from his first experience at sleep-away summer camp. He was gone for a whole week, y’all! He’s been dying to go ever since he was much younger and watched TV shows and movies about camp. He’s always been quite the independent kid and never afraid to venture out for new experiences. (Sounds like someone else I know…) As his mom, I have always been used to his extroverted spirit and tried to keep my own anxieties at bay. I’ve got to be honest, camp was a new challenge for me.
The first time I went to camp, I was in eighth grade or so. I had no idea what to expect from a kid his age. Would he be nervous? Scared? Would he come home having regretted the experience? Or on the flip side, would it be one of the best experiences of his life? I was so worried that his illusion of what camp would be like would set the bar too high. This kid has been obsessed with camping since he was at least two years old.
Here are a few things I learned:
1 | You will have way more anxiety than you think you will.
I was panicked and emotional to the max the day he left. Maybe it was the lack of control or the constant wondering if he was ok, but I was a mess. That went away by day two or three.
2 | They WILL have a great time and be sad to leave at the end.
Everyone said this and it was so true! When I got him off the bus at the end, he was already saying he missed his friends and couldn’t wait for next year.
3 | They will be a just a little different than the kid you left at camp.
A week immersed with other kids and authorities is a big deal, after all. Grayson had a lot to say, was thinking a little deeper, and you could tell he really grew emotionally.
4 | The transition home is a real struggle bus.
They are dealing with a lot of emotions. Their stringent camp schedule is gone, the home rules apply again, and it’s a lot for a little brain to deal with. We had some fits and back talking on the first day, but slowly acclimated. Just expect the transition.
When Grayson got home from (actual) camp, he was beyond thrilled that he didn’t have to say goodbye quite yet to all the camp memories. He unpacked, settled into his bunk, and started counting down to next summer’s week in the wilderness.