I was not the kind of kid who would have enjoyed sleep-away camp. I hated organized sports of all kinds, I didn’t make friends all that easily, I had to take a daily bath, I was an extremely picky eater, and I didn’t actually spend more than five days away from home until I went away to college. When I was Ruby’s age, my ideal summer was spent reading books in the air-conditioning, not playing dodgeball out in nature with my peers. That, in fact, sounded – and still sounds – like torture.
But Ruby is not me, and Ruby is dying to go away to camp.
“We’ll see,” I told her as we went to an informational meeting about Camp Point Clear in Alabama last weekend. “If you like what you hear at this meeting, maybe we can see about sending you for one week.”
As soon as the DVD ended – a montage of sunsets and smores and sports – Ruby jumped up off the sofa and yelled, “I WANT TO GO FOR ALL THREE WEEKS!”
We compromised on two weeks.
Her only hesitation is that she thinks the shorts are ugly. I have a thousand hesitations.
What if she gets sick? What if she doesn’t like the food? She doesn’t eat eggs; should I put that on the form? What if the other girls are mean to her? She’s not the best swimmer! Sometimes she has bad dreams! She prefers baths to showers! She’s very picky about what pillow she sleeps with! She’s been away from home before, but I’ve talked to her on the phone almost every day. How will we both live without that level of contact? Her hair tangles easily. Who is going to comb out her curls every night with a special detangler and a wide-tooth comb and a very gentle hand??? Who???
These worries aren’t going anywhere, but I did take myself firmly in hand and check off the box that Ruby had no medical conditions and/or concerns and mail the forms in with the deposit check.
I don’t know much about sleep-away camp, but I do know that having to manage her friendships and her likes and dislikes and her hygiene and her homesickness is all part of growing up. I don’t think I baby her overmuch (I am guilty of babying Georgia because she is my baby), but I know this is a new level of independence and will be invaluable for her.
She is ready. I am not ready, but I’m working on it.
As long as she doesn’t try to make me go with her, we’re fine. I still prefer to spend my summers reading in the air-conditioning.