When I was little, my summers were filled with camp. Every spring, my Mom and I would go through the Girl Scout catalog of upcoming camps and choose the ones I would attend. The themes ran the gamut from Teddy Bear camp to Dance camp and to Bike and Boating camp. Here's the important part: All the camps were sleep-away and most were for at least a week.
And camping was great: I made new friends, learned dirty songs (sorry, Mom), excelled at kayaking, and had a bedtime buddy who would walk with me to the latrine at night.
By no means we were roughing it. There were lots of nice indoor facilities for activities, nature trails, the tents were on raised platforms and had cots in them, and there was a dining hall where all our meals were prepared. But compared to today's camps, it was definitely lackluster. I talk to moms now who rave about their child's camp with air conditioned facilities, cozy nooks to have quiet time for self-lead activities and computer and wi-fi access.
There is one thing that remains the same, though, and that is the feeling of homesickness.
I had homesickness, of course. I missed my Mom and my stuff and my friends. But then, I got over it. And that is normal. In this interview, Michael Thompson, the author of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow, discusses how homesickness is actually a good thing. Think about it: Isn't is good news that a child has such a loving and warm home to miss in the first place? The key is to let the child experience true homesickness, and then they have gained the knowledge that they can overcome a challenge and branch off on their own.
As an adult I can appreciate that. I want my son to learn that he is stronger than he thinks he is.
Did you go to camp when you were younger? What's your favorite memory? Share it in the comments.