It seems like just yesterday Ruby and I packed up for a summer adventure together – that was SIX years ago! And now, just a few weeks ago, Ruby (who is currently 10) went away to overnight camp…for the first time!
I never went to overnight camp as a kid and never even considered it as an option. So when she asked us if she could try it out, my initial instinct was to say NO! My husband calmed me down, and we discussed it when I could think about it calmly and clearly. We decided to let her go but only for one week since it would be her first time away from home for more than just a night at a sleepover.
When we dropped her off at camp, I bawled (the kind with large tears and makes you completely out of breath) as soon as we walked to the car to leave. She’s my first born child, and I was leaving her in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of people I didn’t know?! “What kind of monster am I?” I thought.
During that week, we would get updates via an app that the camp had set up where photos of her from her various activities would pop up into to our feed. It was nice see her happy and thriving. There were no phone calls allowed, but they did allow the kids to write letters which they scan and send to your app. She wrote us one letter mid-week which I loved.
When it came to picking her up at the end of the week, I was so nervous and excited. Would she not want to come home? Would she wish she could stay longer? Would she be happy to see me? As soon as I saw her, she hugged me so hard and for so long. I cried once again…tears of joy having my baby back and seeing she had made it through the week and had even grown a little in the time since I last saw her. She kept saying how much she missed us and how happy she was to be back together while simultaneously sharing all the amazing things she did at camp that week.
If you’re curious about her experience, I asked her a few questions here from her perspective…
Why did you want to go to overnight camp?
I thought it would be fun!
Did you feel nervous about being away from us for that long?
Yes, but then I got really excited and was happy to be there once we arrived.
Did you miss us?
I missed my family but I think I missed my devices more.
What did you learn being away?
It made me feel more responsible. You have to get your own food, you do everything yourself, there’s no one watching over your shoulder like your parents do.
Do you want to go back again?
Yes! Maybe for two weeks next time?
At the end of the day, I have no regrets about letting her go. She learned a lot. I learned a lot. And it was a great experience for our whole family. I don’t foresee ourselves ever having her be away for more than a couple weeks, but I love the idea of her getting to go for a short part of the summer and then enjoying the rest of it with us!