I was the weird kid who dreamed of boarding school and summer camps; the kinds of adventures that would be worthy of a childhood novel. But I did neither (well, one week of camp when I was eleven, which I loved!). So it’s no surprise that I sought out my own adventures when I was an adult, starting with summer camp.
I had the privilege of working at a nearby summer camp the summer I turned 19.
I met a lot of amazing people that summer. Both peers and kids. Shared a lot of laughs and late night chats. Sang more songs than I would have ever dreamt my off-key voice could belt.
I grew as a person. Got a little broken. Got a little wiser.
I wouldn’t change it for anything.
So when Miss H had a class field trip to CYO Camp, I knew I had to go.
Fortunately J is in town so he was able to take the day off work to stay home with the three littles. I really didn’t want to schlep them around camp all day, and really, I wanted to spend time with my big girl. I want her to know she’s oh-so important to me, even if the little ones tend to take more of my time and attention these days. It doesn’t diminish my love and adoration of her.
Also, it’s kind of surprising how easy it is for me to say “toodles!” to the toddlers and baby. Avellana is only 10 weeks old and I didn’t hesitate to leave her for the day. I 100% would not have done that with Miss H at 10 months old, let alone 10 weeks. Nor Mr. B. But it gets a little easier with each one, to know that they are perfectly safe and loved and well cared for even if I’m not around. Obviously I don’t question their father’s ability to care for them at all, so that also makes it way easier. If it had been a sitter for the whole day that may have been another story.
Anyway. It was such a joy to return to my old stomping grounds and to be surrounded by Miss H and her classmates. You genuinely could not ask for more fun kids to be around. But I also really like kids. Clearly. No one has five kids if they don’t like them. Or they probably shouldn’t anyway.
So much has changed. So much. And yet it is so very much the same.
It’s crazy how much smell makes you remember things. The smell of bat scat brought back so many memories. What a super weird, yet welcoming smell.
The smell of the soap in the bathrooms. The same soap from 12 years ago that kids used too much of, and too little of, all summer long.
Such a reminder of how brief childhood is. Even the youngest of campers who would have attended the summer I worked there are 19 now. The same age I was then. Their childhoods passed so quickly. My own youth slipping away with each passing year. My own babies growing faster than I sometimes feel I can keep up with. It’s all so fast.
And yet so slow.
Miss H spent the day gathering information and creating plans of returning to camp next summer. She wants to go for a week and enjoy all the beauty and wonder that it holds. And while it all ready hurts a little to let her go – she’ll be double digits by then! – I also want that experience for her because I know she’ll love it and flourish.
They still tell kids there is a hippo in the lake. There is still archery – my favorite. They still play Gold Rush. The food is still oddly amazing. It’s still a little too hot, and the cabins a little musty. It’s still a world outside of my element that I find a wee bit overwhelming and uncomfortable, but a whole lot of fun and worth it.
When our day there was done Miss H told me she was glad I got to go with her and spend the day with her. I told her I was glad, too.
And I am.
I’m glad I got that time with my ever-growing firstborn. That I got to be there the first time she walked through CYO camp all bright eyed at how amazing it all is. That she knows she matters so, so much to me. In 10 short years she will be the same age I was when I worked at that camp. And while 10 years may seem like a long time for some, I all ready know how quickly that time will slip by.