Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Real Camp

We took a huge step this summer (maybe by "we" I mean more like "me" but whatever...this was a way huge deal). Back in March, a friend of mine approached me about this super crazy idea to send our girls to camp. Not like easy, morning-only, down the street camp, but away for multiple nights, sleeping in bunk houses with teenage counselors, two hours from home camp. Like REAL CAMP. Like WHAT??? Like send my ELLA to REAL CAMP??? Like PHEW...let me marinate in this for a hot year or two.
My sweet pal, Becky, whose daughter Ella has grown to absolutely adore was all psyched about sending Ella and Addie to this real camp. She told me about how absolutely fabulous real Camp Cherokee is. How her husband had spent weeks in the summers as a young fella there. How it was this amazing place nestled up in the woods in Kings Mountain. How there was kayaking and paddle boarding and hiking and camp songs and arts and crafts and everything else a cool real camp should offer. How everyone who went there went on to be counselors and how some children fell in love with their future partners in crime life.

As I considered this real camp, I realized that it sounded cool. But, as cool as it sounded, I couldn't wrap my head around sending my Ella far, far away to sleep in bunk houses with young counselors and frolic and do god knows what around a camp fire. And, I considered my serious concerns. Who was going to care for my girl the way I have to? Who was going to worry about her the way I do? Who was going to make sure she wore her freaking life jacket? So, I called the people who run real camp and after several conversations on the phone (I'm certain they thought I was totally overbearing and crazy and one of those moms who make them reconsider their jobs), and I decided that I'd send my oldest, precious child, to whom I'd given life away to real camp.
Driving her up there was pretty easy. Leaving her was a mayjah challenge. Helping her get settled on the top bunk (holy crap...I almost died...how could she do this to me? Sleep on the top bunk where she could fall off and break her leg...but she wouldn't comply with my pleadings to sleep on the bottom...I know; I am a lunatic...) and seeing the cute signatures and messages adorning the boards and ceilings (see picture)...and meeting the sweet, but very young (and in the middle of bad choices land...like you KNOW what they do after the little girls are asleep) counselors...real camp was a feat for which I was not prepared. Fortunately for her, my Ella was ALL prepared for me to get the you-know-what outta there.
So, we left. Left her. Left my first born, the one I carried for 9 months and got super fat from, the one who I watch over and worry over and love with so much of my soul it makes me realize that there is enough love in this world to go around to everyone. And, we drove away. Two hours home...over the river and through the woods, away from my Ella we went.

Of course, I worried. As a self-proclaimed phone addict, I was even more of a psycho. I didn't put the thing down, watched it during my yoga class, would hold it close as it was charging, almost cried when a friend of mine told me I had a problem with the device that had become an extension of my arm (wasn't it pretty?). But, I had to be available if anything happened to my girl at real camp. Or if she needed me...but, she didn't. She didn't even lie to the counselors and ask to phone a friend mom. (I see how it is, Ella.)

*I suppose that this is what happens when you go to camp where the counselors are kind and not named after pastries, where you don't get peed on by your friend with whom you've crawled into bed because your cousin got stung by a bee on your side of the tent, where you don't leave with a screaming case of chiggers, etc.
Going to get her after those three long nights was so exciting! I couldn't wait to get my arms around her and hear all about how much she missed me and was ready to come home and all that stuff. While she was excited to see us...literally, she nearly knocked me down with the world's best running, leaping hug into my arms...she wasn't ready to come home. To clarify, it wasn't because home sucks; it was because real camp was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Yes, real camp was everything that Becky had promised and more. Kayaking and rock climbing and arts and crafts and paddle boarding and camp songs and archery and swimming and late nights and no holding hands with gross boys and the mess hall and silliness and laughing and Addie and friends and fun and fun and more fun. She loved it. My Ella LOVED real camp. She was fine. She was better than fine. She was amazing and strong and brave and independent and kind and intelligent. She was Ella. Ella at real camp. Not surprisingly, she wants to go back next year.

1 comment:

  1. Awww! So happy for her...and proud of you! I'll be calling in a few years when I am in this spot. And thanks to you (and many others), I know we will survive, too!