Saturday, June 14, 2014

Notes from Camp

Last month, BEFORE my people had taken off, I wrote a hopeful post about the positive points of Summer camping. Now that we are right smack in the middle of the adventure, I thought it would be appropriate to make some notes from the field.

1. Individual attention is beautiful--and sometimes makes them more grateful for their siblings.

While my husband and I have relished the rotation of 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 time that different camp weeks have allowed, at least one of our children has found all of our individual attention a bit much. One day, as we took P out on a lunch date he said, "Could you please stop staring at me and asking me all these questions?" He was overjoyed when we got a sitter to go out on a date one night and gave him a break. 

P and I even got a fun overnight road trip together when we journeyed to pick R up from North Carolina. I loved the sweet conversations with my introvert who so often gets drowned out by the more verbal members of our family. 

When R got in the car they were squabbling within a few minutes. Through a crooked grin P said, "I'm so glad he's back. I've been bored out of my skull."

2. While family is a beautiful foundation, our kids need a chance to be known beyond just that. 

One of the things I adore about small town living is how 'known' you can feel. The old Southern stereotype of "how's your mama?" is true. I enjoy knowing more about a person's roots--the dynamic they are coming from--but for an increasingly independent child (and maybe specifically a triplet), making your own way can be difficult to accomplish.

We intentionally chose camps for our boys that are not 'popular' among people from our town. While it has been a bit more of a leap of faith to drop them off with 'strangers,' I think it has been to their benefit. They didn't have the pull (or the comfort) of a group they've long known. They were stretched--and as children so often do--rose to the occasion and made new friends.  

Apparently, this included not talking about us much. When P & I arrived to get R his counselors were surprised. "He never mentioned any siblings." 

3. Pray a lot about the balance of 'preparing the road versus preparing the child.'

This is not really specific to camp, but I've been reminded of this phrase a lot during this experience. As our children age we simply cannot be everywhere as their apologist or their specialist outlining operating instructions. I am so guilty of this! I have made it my mission to become an expert in my people. As a result, I want to share that knowledge with everyone they come in contact with--to make sure they get maximum enjoyment/performance from my children. (Yes, I gulped when I typed that. But it is true.)

This comes from a good place. I've learned a lot about their temperament, challenges and strengths from experience. Wouldn't offering a cliff notes version be helpful to everyone? While there are places where this is important, I received some very wise advice to really pray over when and where to intervene in this way. My children must learn to adapt to this world because it is unrealistic to think it is always going to adapt to them.

My husband and I agreed: one paragraph. That's all I got to write on their camp forms. One paragraph to sum up 10 years of expertise in my people. The rest would work itself out. And guess what? It did.

4. Make sure to give their camp address to people in their life. I have absolutely loved opening up those smelly trunks full of dirty clothes to find card and letters from neighbors, friends and grandparents. I know my children probably don't fully appreciate the gift, but I am sure they felt loved. 

Handwritten letters are a dying art in today's world--camp is a perfect excuse for the tradition to be resurrected. These small notes of encouraging words and individual attention spoke care and concern to my people. Isn't that the real beauty of a handwritten note? Each crumpled note shouted, "I thought enough of you to pause my day, find a card, envelope, pen and stamp, and take a moment to write." 

At all three of my children's camps mail is delivered during the one hour rest period. I loved the thought of them lying on their bunks being poured into by little notes. Admittedly, I am a 'words' girl, but there are not many other occasions in a 10 year olds life when they can be pulled away from screens and siblings and just receive this kind of special attention.

5. Don't expect letters in return. I got two letters from P during his nine days away. K has been gone six days and I have received one. Shortly after picked R up from his week he announced, "I never wrote any letters because I played poker every day during rest time. It's a fun game. Want me to teach you?" 
Well, there you go.  

One more week away for my girl before all the birdies are back in the nest--and the ones who are home have already started talking about next year. 

1 comment:

Meggie said...

I especially love your notes on "preparing the road versus preparing the child". My oldest boys are only 5 and 2.5 and I already do a LOT of sharing and instructions and explaining of strengths and weaknesses in the name of making sure everyone "understands" them and in an effort to try to prevent any unnecessary drama or craziness when they're not with me. They are still really young so I know some of it is important and needed at this stage, but it's also good to pray about now... even while they're young. "My children must learn to adapt to this world because it is unrealistic to think it is always going to adapt to them" is SO true and such a good reminder for me. Thank you for sharing your heart and your parenting adventures. I'm learning a lot from you!