My girl was so excited for sleepover camp this year. All summer long as she went to various day camps I was reminded that this is her last summer for children’s programs. Age 10 is the limit for many of them, with the expectation that when you’re 11 you will take your babysitting courses and become a camp volunteer.
I know she’s ready. Aged 10 and she already has a paper route (that I supervise) and she takes it seriously. She saves her money, keeps her room clean, makes responsible choices and knows her own mind. I look at her and I see a small glimpse of the woman she will become, and I couldn’t be prouder. So when we were approaching the week of sleepover camp, I understood that I was the only one having separation issues. She on the other hand couldn’t wait to go, was convinced she wanted to do the whole 2 weeks instead of just the 1 I had registered her for and told me the whole way there that I couldn’t be mushy in front of the other kids.
We arrived at the camp and I got her checked in while she excitedly ran around pointing to everything, and I couldn’t help notice how much older all the kids looked! She was in the age 10-12 group, but she just turned 10 and a lot of those kids looked so much older! I helped her make her bed and unpacked her stuffies; The blanket I made her that she never goes without, the minion, her unicorn, the Jamaican doll she loves and the Monster-High Pillow I made her that holds a photo of she and I, and all the little notes I’ve ever written her. My goodness, these kids were going to eat her alive. I left her there and drove home convinced that after a week of hanging out with such older girls my baby would be gone.
Now despite having emailed them a week prior, and then going over her special diet with the girl at registration, the camp was not prepared for someone who couldn’t have gluten and dairy. It was on her registration forms, but the cook claimed no one told her, and then they had to make a special trip to the grocery store.
My daughters camp counsellor took it on herself to remind my daughter at each meal that she really inconvenienced the staff with her special diet and made more work for them. When my daughter cried she was told to stop crying and deal with it. The change in diet and added stress also aggravated her digestive issues, and was then ridiculed by the same counsellor for how many times she visited the bathroom. By Wednesday she was calling us and wanting to come home (We had paid until Saturday).
This is a terrible thing, and I’m really disappointed with the camp, but this blog isn’t about my feelings towards the camp. The point is that while this was happening, it made our girl homesick for mommy and daddy. The camp staff tried to tell her that she should stick it out, that this is part of growing up and that people would be disappointed in her if she left early. When she called me back next, I told her that no one can decide for her what she is ready for, and that if she wanted to come home we would love to come get her – I don’t sleep well without her home either ;).
Last night when she got home (Greg went and picked her up while I finished a wedding cake) she threw herself into my arms and I felt whole again. I got her ready for bed and helped her unpack. All her little stuffies had been tucked inside her pillow case so no one would see them at camp. Happily I took them out one by one and tucked them all under her arms. We prayed together and I turned on her nightlight, and by the time I checked on her next she was out like a light and sleeping peacefully. Today she keeps telling me how much she missed us while she was gone and wanted to come home, and it makes my heart feel full to see how small she still is. For once I feel like time isn’t moving ahead as fast as I thought.