Yesterday I dropped my 11-year-old off at sleep away camp for a month. As we pulled onto the beautiful grounds, my eyes were drawn to a group of counselors cheering and holding signs that said “Welcome Home!”
Tears welled up in my eyes. My older daughter teased me, “Mom! Are you crying already?!” I bit my lip. I couldn’t help being overwhelmed by the sign’s message. I defined home as a space we shared where my daughter found comfort, acceptance and love. I was seeing that this was the same feeling for her at camp. I was happy for her, but sad at the same time. I sobbed behind my sunglasses and forced myself to take a deep breath. It was time to let go.
My camper was more than ready to return to her other “home”. In fact, she had been packed for days, having counted down since camp ended last summer. As we checked her in and unpacked her belongings, I thought about how much I admired her for making this choice.
Camp is hard core fun, yes. But it is also about being brave. Camp fosters independence, growth and requires community participation to function in the best way possible. It takes courage to leave the comfort of your family and friends, not to mention all electronics.
“I love you Mom, and I will miss you tons,” she said looking around with the biggest smile. “I am so happy to be back here.”
Part of me is envious, in the most grown up way, of the experience she will have. She will explore, discover and create new memories. She will interact with her peers and make lifelong friendships. She will grow, because she will be doing new and different things outside of her comfort zone. She will have the “best summer ever!”
I am proud and happy for her, despite any sadness of her being away for a month. I know home is where the heart is, but I miss her already! Is that crazy?
When I returned home late last night I realized I wasn’t alone in my feelings when my husband greeted me with, “Only 27 more days till she is back!”