Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Go away so you can miss me

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.


  1. I never went to camp. I lived/traveled through my international penpals I found in the back of Cat Fancy magazine. Can' you even imagine that happening nowadays?
    I'm sure I would have loved camp. but my mom was home with us until I was a teen, which I also loved. We didn't travel much when I was young. Summers were spent in the pool, beach or checking the dirt in front of the mail box for tire marks from the mail truck (this meant a possible letter from Belgium and Korea). But then, as soon as I graduated from college, off I went traveling around the word and living abroad for a few years. I guess the back of Cat Fancy did influence me.

    1. But now the question is - how do you feel about sending your children to camp? Are you for it or would you rather spend the time and money elsewhere?