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Letting Him Go…..To Camp

It’s been five (well seven days bc I wasn’t sure if I should post this) since we dropped Ryder at sleep away camp and words can not describe how I feel.  I’m beside myself. I’m worried about him, I miss him, and I continue to envision him lost in the crowd. I’ve been spinning in circles all week, lost and anxious, as if I’ve lost something. Everything just feels super weird. A feeling of being incomplete, something that I can hardly describe.

Sending Your Child To Sleep Away Camp

If you are asking why would we send our eight year away for three weeks, it’s because he expressed interest in camp last year. When he first mentioned it, I knew I couldn’t bring myself for him to leave for the typical six or seven week stint. We agreed on three, as a trial run. The idea of sleep away camp was somewhat foreign to Jason and I, because neither of us experienced it when we were kids. We had nothing to relate to, no connection to our former camp. In fact, we didn’t even know what programs were available until a few months back, we learned about a camp that specializes in kids with dyslexia. We figured if we were sending him away, we might as well throw in a little education in the mix.

Sending Your Child To Sleep Away Camp

In the weeks leading up to the first day, we were shopping for supplies and packing his things, when Ryder started to express that he was nervous. I think the learning component spooked him, so he would have instances when he told us he didn’t want to go for three weeks, only agreeing on two weeks. This seemed to be normal nerves, and I knew he would love it.

Sending Your Child To Sleep Away Camp

Finally, the drops off came, and I was a complete disaster. I did my best to put on a brave face, but my sunglasses could only camouflage so many tears. He noticed, and tried to console me, my little man. During the afternoon, he seemed content, running over to his roommate when they met for the first time. Jason and I unpacked his clothes and gear, ensuring he was all set up. Naturally, we forgot a thing or two, that we’ve since shipped to him, along with some pre-postmarked postcards for him to mail back home to us (we haven’t recv’d any yet).

Sending Your Child To Sleep Away Camp

Camp rules prohibit campers from phoning home the first week, as a way to mitigate homesickness. The idea of this had my spinning, so I made plans with a counselor, who was nice enough to share his email, so I could check up on him. I did my best not to email him, but couldn’t help myself. I sent the first email that evening, to see how Ryder was sleeping. He emailed me back the following morning and said…The first night he had a hard time going down, and went to bed really late. The same followed on day two. This was hard to hear, but the counselor did mention Ryder was participating in all of the activities, and he was getting along with the other campers. At least there was that.

Sending Your Child To Sleep Away Camp

Once a day, the camp post pictures on their social media accounts, but not nearly as many as I’d hoped. Ryder was in a few photos, and as I look at each, I wondered if he was happy or not. Again, spinning myself in a tizzy. This prompted me to email the counselor again, because I longed to hear that Ryder was having fun, and there were no issues. His later emails revealed that Ryder was sleeping better, but that he gets homesick at night, telling his counselor how he misses us. He told me he received his care package this morning, which made him happy. With that, I am still a mess. I guess I am longing for that one photo or email that shows my boy having the time of his life.

Sending Your Child To Sleep Away Camp

It’s not like we shipped him off so we can have one less kid on our hands. Three kids, two kids its all the same. We did it for him- for the experience. I’ve spoken to many friends who send their kids to camp. They love it, and their kids love it. I’m really trying to find the joy in all this, but I am not. I understand camp is meant a right of passage, of sorts for kids. They grow, they learn, they make friends, they become independent. And I do hope it will be all that for Ryder, but I’m just not feeling that way right now.

Sending Your Child To Sleep Away Camp

He will call home on Monday afternoon, and it cannot come soon enough. I just want to hear his voice. I want to hear about his excursions, I want to hear about his new friends, I want to hear that he’s having a good time. I keep thinking he is going to ask me to come get him. He probably won’t, but if those words came out of his mouth, Jason would have to strap me down to keep me from driving upstate to pick him up.

Sending Your Child To Sleep Away Camp

But let’s see. I’ll keep you posted on what he says! I hope as the days progress, it continues to get easy for him, and selfishly, for me too! But, for now, I’ll continue to stumble around like a zombie, unsure if I’m coming or going.

Would love to hear from anyone out there who’s been in my shoes!

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20 thoughts on “Letting Him Go…..To Camp”

  1. I’m so sorry I didn’t respond when I first commented on your Igram post/story. My grandson went to sleep away camp this week. First extended time away from home and he’s 13! But he’s a young 13. He’s at scout camp. So I’m hoping he’s so exhausted from the day that he collapses at night for sleep.
    But I understand your heartache. I used to feel the same way when my own sons went to camp. As parents we want our children to have experiences that will enrich their lives and help them become fulfilled adults. But it’s not easy.
    I hope when you speak to your dear son he can help ease your anxiety. Don’t anticipate anything less than hearing good news.
    Besides a mother, I have been an early childhood teacher for almost 40 years. I’ve had to comfort many parents on those first days when they just couldn’t separate from their dear Kinder. Try to fill your weekend with joyous activities with the girls. (I loved the baby stroller pics today. )
    Monday will be here soon.

  2. My 11 year old leaves later this month for one week and I could not imagine longer. Actually that must be a New York thing as there are no camps for longer than a week in Ohio. I did one week as a kid and loved it so I know my girl will too but still, so hard! Hang in there momma, this parenting thing is rough!!

  3. Catherine Sargent

    I am sure that this is really tough. My son never went to camp, but I would be going nuts worried about him. I wouldn’t like not being able to talk to him for the first week.

  4. Our kids go to summer camp for a week this month and they are so excited. Last year was their first times and it was just for 5 days. I was nervous, but they absolutely loved it! I used to love going to Girl Scout Summer Camp when I was a kid, so I was excited for them to have this experience.

  5. Sending mine to camp for the first time was so hard. It was the moment when I had to let go and trust all that I invested into them.

  6. Aw I can only imagine how hard it is so send your child off to camp for the first time, but what an amazing experience to be able to do of a summer, we don’t have anything quite like here.

  7. It’s so not easy to let them go especially if they’re gone for days! I can imagine your internal struggle to come get him and just be with him but I love that you stayed strong through all of this and that you let him live and experience things that he wants.

  8. The first time my boys went to summer camp, I was a nervous wreck. I called and emailed the organizers with the same question everyday, “How are my boys? Are they eating good? Sleeping well?” Being a worry wart, I never had a moment’s peace until they were home with me. I know they enjoyed being away at summer camp, but I definitely did not.

  9. Amy Desrosiers

    Aww, your son is so cute! I always wanted to go to camp as a kid and sleep there-he is lucky!

  10. I made such great memories at summer camp when I was a kid. My daughter keeps asking when I’ll let her go. You’re making me think maybe I need to let go a little.

  11. Wow. Your son really looked cute and I always wanted to go to the camp glad he experience it he’s so lucky.

  12. Pingback: Ages 4,6,8 | Stroller in the City

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