There have been a lot of big moments for my daughter this year. In April she turned 10, she’s going to see Harry Potter on Broadway, and for two weeks this summer she will be going to sleep away camp!
Sleep away camp wasn’t even a blip on our radar until my daughter’s best friend told her she was going. From that point on she questioned us daily about whether or not my husband and I would let her go. I told her that I had to do some research first. I also told her that since her father is more of the anxious one she would have to wait for him to reach a decision. To be honest, I was worried about the concept of sleep away camp. I mean how can my child survive two weeks away from me? The girl can barely brush her hair and I have to remind her to brush her teeth every morning.
My husband and I didn’t come by this decision lightly. In the end we thought it would be the best thing for her. If you’re considering sleep away camp for the first time, here are the ways my husband and I came to our decision.
Research, Research, Research
We were at a little bit of an advantage with this. My daughter’s best friend’s mother is my best friend since college. Our families have known each other for over 15 years. So the fact that they fell in love with this camp made me trust the camp right away. However, I still did my research. I went online and read all about their program. I also spoke to one of the camp counselors over the phone. She answered all of our questions and gave us even more information. She also told me that she used to go to this camp as a child. The fact that this camp left such a lasting impression on her spoke volumes.
The one thing I loved about this particular camp? No electronic devices are allowed for the entire two weeks! Even the counselors who share a cabin with the campers don’t bring them. Two whole weeks of my 10 year old getting her face out of an iPad and enjoying the outdoors. She can’t even bring an iPod. Honestly I would’ve sent her on that rule alone.
We also loved the communication system. Phone calls aren’t allowed but you can “email” your child. You have a parental dashboard where you can send a message. They receive it as a letter and then they write you back and it will be “emailed” to you. The dashboard contains pictures from each day so you can see what your child is up to. If you have sent your child to daycare or school crying, you know how nice it is when the teacher sends you a smiling picture.
Is Sleep Away Camp Is Right For Your Child?
My daughter is very independent. She loves to do things on her own and very rarely gets homesick. Granted she’s never been away from us this long but we are pretty sure she won’t want to leave when we pick her up. After reading about all the activities she gets to choose from I want to go too!
My husband and I also love the idea that her first sleep away camp will be with her best friend. We have requested that they share a cabin. Although both families have told them that they don’t have to do every single thing together. Our girls are as different as different gets in the best ways possible. Neither one of them has an interest to do what the other does. However, they support and encourage each other lovingly and without competition. After a long day of activities with kids they don’t know, they can come back to their cabin to a familiar loving face.
Sometimes You Just Have to Let Go
To be honest, my husband truly struggled with the decision to send our daughter to camp for two weeks. In the end, he decided he didn’t want his fears holding her back. I worry what she will look like when we pick her up. Is there going to be two weeks worth of knots to brush out of her hair? Will she have showered with soap or just stood there and let the water hit her? Will the top part of her hair be a greasy mess while the bottom is clean because she hasn’t fully grasped the concept of scrubbing the shampoo into her scalp?
At the end of the day, I have to trust that she knows what she’s doing. Even if she doesn’t, I believe that she will learn fast. Sometimes the fastest way for your child to learn is not by you teaching them, but by them doing it themselves. My hope is that when I pick her up after 14 days she is clean, well fed, but most of all happy.