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Growth Spurts: Happy Camper

Last summer I sent my firstborn to an overnight camp for the first time. This was a big step of faith for me. I really don’t think I’m a “helicopter mom,” but I think we can all agree that dropping your child off on a Monday and letting complete strangers care for her, knowing that you won’t get to see or speak to her until Saturday, is a BIG DEAL.

Thankfully, I had good friends who had previously sent their children to Twin Lakes, plus I had multiple friends who had worked there in the past. So I knew the great reputation of the camp, and I trusted it. But it was still hard to drop Callie off, particularly when she didn’t know a single girl in her cabin. It ranked right up there with leaving her with a babysitter for the first time when she was an infant. (Yes, I’m the mother who left two pages of instructions with the babysitter, who was going to be there all of two to three hours.) But I was brave–both then and now–and I left my still-baby-to-me at her very first camp.

Though my tears flowed for a while on that first day, and my thoughts often took me to the Land of Worry, I eventually felt better and imagined all that Callie would experience during that week. There would be lots of firsts for her–things like canoeing and riflery and ropes courses (GULP). Her bravery would be tested, as would her friend-making skills. And I wouldn’t be anywhere nearby to encourage her.

As I said, we would have no verbal communication with Callie during the week. I was able, though, to send her letters (Yes, I sent one for every day she was gone.), and we even received one from her. It made me smile and greatly put my mind at ease, because I could tell that she was having a really wonderful time. Also, Twin Lakes posts pictures daily on their website of the different days’ events. And so I scrutinized every single photo, looking for my daughter’s sweet face. And every time I found it, there was a huge smile upon it. (Thank you, Twin Lakes, for this service!)

Fast-forward now to Saturday of that week. My family and I couldn’t get to the camp fast enough, in my opinion. And once we got there, we waited for all the campers to come to the closing ceremony at the pavilion. Since there were so many of them, and they were all dressed in matching t-shirts, it took us a few minutes to find Callie. But when we did, we found her absolutely beaming! She took great joy in telling us of all her experiences at her first camp and introducing us to all of her new friends. She was sincerely sad to be leaving and has been planning her return to Twin Lakes ever since that day.

Callie has written an article about her first camp experience. Look for it in this issue! To all you parents contemplating sending your child to camp for the first time: Let me encourage you to do it, even though it’s hard. Both you and your child will learn some wonderful life lessons through the experience, and you will both grow from it.

 

Carrie Bevell Partridge will need to re-read this column in a few months as she prepares to send her son to camp for the first time.

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at carriebevellpartridge.com and Facebook.com/carriebevellpartridge.

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