Camp Kids


I was never much of a summer camp kid. I went, every summer, from around the age of eight or so, but I never really got into it. While I loved the idea of camp, I kind of just preferred being home where I could do what I wanted, on my own schedule. When I was old enough for overnight camp, I went, but never with a smile on my face. I was the one who sent home the weepy letters and made my parents visit me so much more often than they would have liked. I just didn’t get it.

My brother, on the other hand, lived for camp. He was a different person at summer camp, with none of the bullshit he faced in school. It was his happy place. When I met Jeff, I quickly learned that he, too, was a “camp kid.” His happiest childhood memories and very best times all took place there. He went to the same overnight camp year after year right up until college. He still references camp plays and traditions, all these years later.

I hadn’t planned on camp this summer. I’m not working this year and really just couldn’t justify the enormous cost. I could spend my days entertaining the kids and have some help from grandma and a few babysitters. We’d survive. But when we had to cancel two trips thanks to various infections and a scary bout with pneumonia, (Jeff, not the kids,) I became desperate. The thought of another week hearing cries of “he started it” and “I’m so bored” was more than enough to justify the cost. My sanity was at stake here. Camp it was.

Lily wanted to stay close to home and chose an art program down the street. Evan, suddenly the easy one, happily joined her there. Ben was the one who decided on an old school summer camp located a half hour bus ride away. His school friends were going and he thought it sounded like fun. But, I was hesitant. It’s a really long day of swimming and boating and sports and activities and Ben is not a kid known for his stamina. He tires pretty easily and, as the middle child, is the one I worry about most. “Are you sure?” I asked for the hundredth time before writing the check. He was sure, he assured me, and I sent him off with his new Transformer backpack on Monday.

My stomach was in knots all day. Would he get sick on the bus? Be afraid in the pool? Hate having his sunscreen applied? Be freaked out by the unfamiliarity of it all? I could just see him, lip quivering, sitting in the corner all by himself. My baby! I couldn’t wait to pick him up.

But, he jumped off the bus smiling. He told us about basketball and the free water play and the lake that they could jump into. “It’s like school, but only fun!!!” he reported to his wide eyed sister. “Don’t you want to go?” She wasn’t convinced. “I don’t want to take the bus. Or change in front of other kids. Or be there all day. It’s so loooooong” she whined. “I know I won’t like camp. I’m just not a camp person.” He laughed at her and walked away, suddenly the experienced and wise one.

Maybe Lily’s right, and this is the rare instance where she actually takes after me. But if that’s the case, she is surely missing out. Those camp kids are the lucky ones.


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  1. 1

    Anthony from CharismaticKid says

    I went to summer DAY camp. It was horrible. I didn’t get to do anything I wanted, and I dearly wished I could go to sleep away but my parents wouldn’t let me.

    GRRR!!!! The best thing about day camp was making lanyard bracelets. Who knows barrel?

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  2. 2

    tracy says

    I loved sleep away camp. When I was in 4th grade we used to sneak into the boys camp to flirt with the 6th grade boys.

    Thus, my girls will never go to sleep away camp.

    The end.

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  3. 3

    Amy says

    My 5 year old daughter lasted a week this year in day “hiking” camp and then couldn’t go another step. The whining she did after camp from being tired was more than I could bare. I thought I’d get a break and instead it was harder than if she were home all day. I don’t think she’s a camp kid.

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  4. 4

    josie in nc says

    my oldest was 7 last summer when i sent him to an Operation Purple camp. it was five nights away…. he loved every minute of it. he is definitely a camp kid.

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  5. 5

    Amanda Soltys says

    Sent my oldest to sleepaway camp last summer. He came back SO EXCITED.. He got to do Everything he could never do here. AND the bonus? He was away from his siblings. I tried to figure out how I could raise enough money to send him all summer this year! He is definitely a camp kid. I hope they all are! Lol. Peace reigns when they are all busy with their little activities.

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  6. 6

    Nicole says

    I am sending my daughter to girl scout camp next week. I just signed her up for three days because I thought she would be nervous and I was nervous to have her there all week. We went to orientation and she was asking why she couldn’t go all week. I guess she is a ‘camp kid':) I am trying to prepare myself to be without her for three day and nights wih no cell phone!

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  7. 7

    Melissa says

    I was not fortunate enough to go to summer camp but always wanted to go. I know I would’ve been a “camp kid.” I fully intend to start my kiddo into summer camp as soon as she’s old enough. She’s 3 1/2 now… any camps for that age??? :)

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  8. 9

    Kay@Bluespeckledpup says

    I went to many summer camps through 4-H as a kid, and it was always the highlight of my summer. I was nerdy and unpopular at school, but my friends at camp didn’t know that about me and accepted me the way I was. I still look back on those weeks away from home with a smile.

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  9. 10

    Life with Kaishon says

    We went for one week in the summer and that was JUST enough. I would rather be bored at home! Kaish is going to go to one week of acting camp and I am glad he just wants one week. It is freaking $400. What the heck. Naji wants to go to sports camp for a week. That is way cheaper at only $275. Thank the Lord!

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