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14 Comments 12 July 2010

Two of my three kids are at camp right now.  Everyone has an opinion about sending their kid to camp and I am no exception.  I think it is the pinnacle of the childhood experience.  It is also the pinnacle of the emptying of the pocketbook experience!  However, poverty has its benefits.  Both of my kids have benefited by scholarships and for those scholarships I am eternally grateful.  For me, being away from home, with peers and counselors who love and enjoy campers is a life-changing experience.  So much of a child’s life is shaped by us, their parents, and I think camp gives them an opportunity to step out on their own and test their fledgling wings.  Granted, not all camps are created equally, and every parent must choose the best camp for their child, but all in all, being away from Mama & Daddy offers a wonderful moment in time to spread your own wings.

I loved camp as a kid.  I loved meeting new people and the comradery that being in a cabin with ten or so other girls offered.  But I think the greatest impact that I experienced was my relationship with my counselor.  Having someone, just a few years older than me step into my life and tell me I was special…that I was a great kid…that I could change the world, it changed me.  I am certain that my counselors said nothing that I had not heard from my parents, grandparents, aunts, or teachers, but it was different.  They were unique and the setting was unique.  They represented a person that I wanted to be, they were cool college girls that were fun and crazy and yet they had a genuine love for people and a genuine faith.

Camp for my kids has proven to be very similar.  They are living in a completely different world right now.  Days are full of activities that both challenge them and make them laugh their heads off.  My daughter has everything from synchronized swimming to pottery classes and sailing in between.  My son, whose camp is a bit more rustic, swims in a river, will go whitewater rafting and plays every type of “ball” imaginable.  They are making new friends and learning in the process how to be themselves in these new relationships.  I am encouraging them to listen well, to ask questions and to be kind to the underdogs.  I am constantly trying to remind them that who they are now is who they will become.  I have especially been encouraging my daughter to listen to that still small voice that is her heart and soul, to be okay with who she is and who she is not.  She is surrounded with a multitude of girls from very affluent backgrounds who have had opportunities that she has not had.  I am encouraging her to own who she is, her experiences, her passions, her gifts, her background and all that she brings to the table.  It has been lovely to hear that her counselor is encouraging the very same things, along with helping her learn to laugh at herself.

As I write my kids, I always try to put a name in the return address spot that makes them giggle.  This goes back to my college days and my friend from college.  She was always so clever to do this and it made me laugh my head off!.  I have done it ever since and now my best friend and I both do it with all of our kids who are away.  They love it…they see the silly name, the old crush, the political figure their grandmother hates, the teacher that gave them a hard time, the movie star they love, the music group they can’t stand…and the giggling ensues!  But just beneath the laugh is their home address and a reminder that I am here, here waiting for them to return to me.  Happy always for them to go and spread their wings, but happier still for them to come back to that return address!

Do you send your babies to camp?  Where?  How long are they gone?  Do you love/hate it?

My kids go to Camp Greystone (daughter) and Camp Laney (son).

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14 Comments so far

  1. Ginger says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Camp was one of the most formative things in my life and I would not trade my experience for the world! I went to Camp Nakanawa for 8 summers and it will always be a very special place to me!

    • Jorja says:

      ginger, it really does change us! thanks for stopping by ginger! i know you are so much younger than me, but i am always happy to have you younger gals along in hopes that you might skip a few of the pitfalls that tripped me up along the way!

  2. Ginny says:

    I just got back from taking my big “D” to Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp–a week-long camp for kids with disabilities. It’s about an hour and 1/2 from home and all of the counselors are teenagers, college students, and graduates who volunteer their time for this once-a-year experience. He will have a buddy, one-on-one, in addition to cabin leader, nurses to administer medicine and a doctor on call. There’s actually a waiting list for the volunteers. Parents aren’t allowed to hang around, but a friend of mine went to see what went on last year as she was considering taking her son. She said that each child and adult seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their time there. I admire those youth for their week of selflessness–something I don’t think I could have done myself at that age.
    D was happy to be there today, wanted me to stay, but I know will get acclimated quickly as the New Orleans Saints cheerleaders are there visiting! That boy sure does love a pretty girl! 🙂 He may be a little sad when he meets his counselor this time since last year he had a girl counselor–who was an absolute doll. This year he graduates to the all boys’ cabin. He loves to swim and talk into the microphone (he did a “Hey” call and answer last year that went on for 10 minutes–loving every second of it). As you can see I am trying to talk myself into believing this was a good idea. (Deep breath) Well, I’ll call the camp director tonight to make sure he’s OK and then ask God to let me enjoy this week with only two children!!!

    • Jorja says:

      ginny, i would love to know more about this camp! and i want to say to you, bid “D” will be okay, he will be great and you will be a better mama to him when he gets home, all because you need a break! you need some time with those little ones and it is good to rest! you are a beautiful soul! keep breathing deeply and take this time in and enjoy it!

  3. I know in my heart God brought you in my life, Jorja.
    Reading the post today has takes any lingering doubt away. One of my nieces went to Camp Greystone- I would say I am surprised, but I am not. She loved it, as you write your daughter does.
    This same niece is spending the summer in Alaska with her fiance earning money gutting fish to pay off her student loans. She will graduate from college next spring. She is a talented artist, anticipating a career teaching the same to others.
    I went to Camp Glen Arden in Arden, NC. This was one of the most special times in my life- she will cherish the memories she is creating.
    You are a good mother, Jorja. They are blessed

    • Jorja says:

      ridgely, that is so, so fun! she sounds like a keeper of a kid! thanks for the encouragement! love you ridgely, thanks for taking the time to love on me!

  4. Judy Helfand says:

    Jorja,
    This brought back memories. Growing up I never went to camp. I never heard children talking about it, but then I grew up in San Diego and our weather was beautiful, not muggy, and the Pacific Ocean was only a few miles away. All the children in the neighborhoods just played together. At least one parent was home during the day.

    When I moved to New Hampshire in 1985, my sons were 4 and 1.5! Many children talked of camp, but in my mind I thought “you live just outside a National Forest, with lakes and rivers everywhere, who needs camp?” And as the years passed, I knew they needed camp for every reason that you have so beautifully articulated in your post.

    So, yes, my babies went to camp, summer 1993, 1994, and 1995. They went to a Y camp. Camp Belknap

    My favorite memory of their camp experience was the letters they wrote home! I still have them carefully saved.

    Happy summer!
    Judy

    • Jorja says:

      judy, i got your comment just at my best friend, who has two girls at greystone with my daughter arrived and started reading the letters that her girls had mailed. we laughed and got teary! yes, the letters are great!

  5. Chastity says:

    Hey Aunt Bea!! Kink went to her first camp last week with First Baptist Church in Holly Springs. They went to Camp Garawya in Clinton, MS. It was only 5 days, but it was a great experience for her, and insured many more camp experiences. She had never been away for that long, without being able to talk to us…so the first night was alittle rough, but with the help of the awesome counselors who eased her mind and calmed her fears, she ended up having a blast! She’s looking forward to doing it again! Miss and love you, Chastity

    • Jorja says:

      chaz, you tell kink that aunt bea is so very, very proud of her! and you go sign her up for another camp right now! i so wish she could go to greystone! caroline got a huge scholarship, or she would certainly not be there! i’ve told jenn that i would love for sadie to go! maybe sadie and kink could go to another camp over here next summer. look into skyline, riverview, camp mac, or camp desoto. caroline has friends who go to all four! love you too!

  6. Ginny says:

    Jorja, here is the link. You can see pictures from last year–there are a few cute ones of D (with the microphone! 🙂
    And he was doing just fine when I called last night! 🙂

    • Jorja says:

      ginny, that is so funny! just got finished looking at the web page! wish i lived in south mississippi so i could send mari-helen! glad to hear d is well!

  7. Lisa says:

    I was thrilled to come across your website! I dropped my 8 year old daughter off at Camp Fern today for her first camp experience. It brought back so many fond memories of my own experience at Camp Nakanawa back in 1985! Holy cow, has it been that long?? I went for 6 weeks, that was the only option then. Only snail mail, no electronics, no emails from mom and dad. Wow, how times have changed! I am so grateful that her experience will be similar. Looking back, it was a time that I really felt a sense of self worth, community, and, I liked myself. I was truly happy. Somewhere along the way my self-worth became dependent upon other people, their opinions, (am i pretty enough, smart enough, etc) I am now a 38 y/o divorced physician and mother of two. This culture is deceptive, young women get suggestions from such an early age that the pinnacle of their lives is finding the right man to marry,and allowing their self-worth to rise and fall based on how he/society responds to her. I have finally found mine again. I hope my daughter will not have to travel such a tortuous journey to find hers. Mabe we can teach our daughters something different. So I am a huge advocate of camp! Thanks for sharing your story!


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“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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