Camp songs and campfires, silly skits and the Tuck Shop. I remember camp fondly and know this is something I want to share with my son. Eventually.
The issue is, I’m somewhat over-productive. Fine, just put an “s” in front of mother and that’s me. The thought of sending my baby off into the wild without his mama to check on his well-being every fifteen minutes? The horror.
When the two of us were invited to visit Muskoka Woods on a media tour, I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to go. It would’ve been the perfect opportunity to let my son get all campy WHILE keeping my eye on him. But, his birthday party was scheduled for the same weekend. Details had been arranged, RSVPs had been returned. Our S’more making hands were tied.
A friend suggested that I at least give him the option. So I told my son we could either keep the party plans as is or reschedule and go to camp. Upon hearing the camp itinerary he said, “We get to go on a bus?! Is it the kind with a bathroom on it??” Oh dear. I had him at bus. The kid needs to get out more. Alas, we were camp bound!
My son gets plenty of attention, but admittedly, probably not as much as his sister. Her needs simply make it so. And I feel guilty. Going to camp, just the two of us was something we really needed and I couldn’t have been more excited and grateful for the opportunity.
I imagined us; my first born and I, following trails in search of adventure, possibly holding hands. And canoeing, just he and I J-Stroking our way across Lake Rosseau with a gaggle of loons in our wake.
Okay, maybe these are the imaginings of an actual loon, but there was no doubt that some time alone together would be amazing.
And it was.
Just not in the way I had imagined.
At the beginning of the bus ride, my guy sat beside me. Within minutes however, he had changed seats to sit with his new friend.
When we arrived at camp (the most beautiful, sprawling 1,000 acres of adventure and endless possibility) my son stayed close. I resisted the temptation to kiss his cheeks and stroke his hair and was content to just be with him.
And that’s when he ditched me.
He made friends — like frolicking, laughing hysterically, inside jokes and silly antics — kind of friends. He was experiencing camp full throttle.
He and his friends chatted and shared their adventures over their meals, while their mothers sat together at a separate table, trying not to interfere. I struggled not to ‘suggest’ what to put on his plate and pretended not to notice (for the record he had a plate heaped with corn, a side of cherry tomatoes, a bun slathered in butter and three glasses of lemonade).
During the campfire, he didn’t sit with me. Instead, he sat with a new friend and sang camp songs with all his heart. Watching him enjoy himself and seeing how confident he seemed to be, I teared up. If anyone had noticed I would have blamed the campfire smoke (or the bug spray I’d gotten in my eye during our archery lesson).
We were fortunate to have had “Tippy” as our councellor. She guided our group through the activities and I got real sense of how dedicated and caring the staff are. A few of us actually tried to bribe Tippy into coming home with us for the summer… but apparently she’s happy where she is. And it shows.
As we loaded our bags onto the bus, and said goodbye to friends, I said to one of the camp directors, “I will absolutely send my son here next summer. I know he’ll be okay here. More than okay. And this is a big deal coming from a worrier like me.”
My child, the kid who is never out of his mother’s sight, will go to camp. This camp. And I won’t worry. Much. Aaaaaand, cue the loon call in the distance…