My Number One Son is attending College for Kids this week, enrolled in an annual Young Writers’ Academy, which he loves. On our commute yesterday morning, he asked after what I’d been writing lately, and I admitted to being in what you might call a slump. “Why don’t you write about me going to camp?” was his helpful, if a bit egocentric, suggestion. Turned out to be an effective prompt, so here we go.
The best week of the year.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association refers to camp as that, the best week of the year, and they deliver. They over-deliver, in fact. At registration, I was told the letter I wrote to the counselors was perfect, which may be (is definitely) shaded in overstatement, but I appreciated the compliment. I received the most beautiful email from a couple whose son was taken from them in 2012 due to complications of Duchenne MD. Through the miracle of Facebook, they were connected to this post, and took the time to contact me. Early in my blogging career (go on with your bad self, girl), I thought it would be a miracle if I could connect with or help or support even one person, and these terrific parents told me I could check that off my list. Yeah, tears were shed.
Thanks Wendy for your letters to the counselors. I cried reading it to my wife. This brought back many memories when we took our son Todd to MDA summer camp. . . Your words captured what we thought about the camp counselors, we always said thanks, but never really knew how to say more than just that. Your insight was very thoughtful. These young adults give up a week out of their summer to be big buddies to our kids. I always wondered if they truly ever knew what impact they had on so many kids and their families.
Oh my, oh my, oh my, you are welcome.
I delivered the big kid to camp alone this year, as my husband stayed in the Wisconsin Dells with our younger son for day two of his baseball tournament. I think going solo made drop-off easier for me this year. I was responsible for getting all of the things he needed packed and ready and in the car, I had to get up at the crack of dawn and get all Google Mapped out to ensure an on time arrival, and I welcomed the busy-ness. There’s much less time to wallow in contemplation when one is occupied with purpose.
Just having been there at Camp Wonderland before made the process less scary, more familiar this year too. There was a moment of confusion, but just a blip at that, as the camp director called down for my kid’s counselor. “Don’t leave this room until you talk to me again, OK?” Sarah asked, and who was I to wander? I’m very good at following directions. Minutes later–nothing but a typo causing the blip–my son was introduced to his counselor who happened to be wearing a YouTube tee shirt. Bonding start to finish before we even got back to the car to unload! Back up to Willow Cabin we drove for 2017’s best week of the year, where we unloaded in under 45 seconds thanks to a local chapter of a HOG (Harley Owner’s Group), ready to shuffle the kids’ belongings into the kids’ cabins.
As a mom, you kinda want this to drag out a little. You kinda want time to linger, to check out the cabin, make face-name connections, learn who your kid will be tossing and turning with over the next five nights. Instead, you keep your sunglasses on, aver in a surprisingly stable tone of voice well, it’s time, and demand that he bring it in for a hug. In something of another surprise, your kid obliges with the hug and seems to mean it! You turn, straighten your shoulders, exhale a too-long sigh, and resume a right-left-right-left cadence. You only cry a little bit, and you turn around just once to catch that one last glimpse out of the corner of your eye, but you’re already too late.
But you’re OK.
And so is he.
He is better than OK, and you’re grateful in every conceivable way. You’re also grateful in one especially weird way–you miss him less than you believe you should because you know, you KNOW!, he is where is meant to be. He is home. He’s home with the only other group of people who knows what and how he feels. You miss him less than you should because part of you doesn’t want him to have to come to your home, his real-world home; you want that camp never to end for him.
The closing photo montage this year featured an acoustic version of the song Safe and Sound by Capital Cities. How these people don’t cry their way through this presentation is nothing short of miraculous to me–I misted up immediately at that underlying message: camp is where our kids are safe and sound; that theme was not lost on me. They are. In closing, Sarah thanked families for trusting her, the counselors, and the medical staff. That she could only imagine how terrifying that could be–to leave your child and trust that he or she will be OK. Not me. Never terrified.Thank you for sending my kid to camp, my friends. Thank you for hanging in with me every step of the way. I lack the depth and breadth of vocabulary to express just how much you mean to me. You will just have to trust me.