The Time My Kid Went To Overnight Camp

The morning after my sister's wedding, the LM and I left the house at 6am (do you even want to know how much that hurt??), picked up two of his buds, and made the 7 hour trek to his first week of overnight camp. I had very mixed feelings about our 7 year old being away for a week but he was going with three of his friends ages 12-14, and he was so excited about going that we thew caution to the wind and signed him up. The plan was that I would stay at a nearby inn the first night, and check in with him on my way to the city. He had a little flip phone so he could call me anytime he wanted (and believe me he did) but given that the camp had a separate cabin for the little sprouts, aged 7-9, we figured if they accepted these ages then they were certainly well versed in things like homesickness, eating/ sleeping issues, etc. If it was up to us, the LM would have actually stayed with his older friends, but in the end it was great that he was in the younger cabin because the "Cabin Dad" (who sleeps with the 12!!! campers) was actually someone from Boston and we knew him and his son well which was a huge relief.

The drive and drop off went way better than expected. Since it was our first time at the camp (which is basically a huge skateboard park ((and gymnastics center)) in the middle of Amish County) we were so excited to finally see it in person, that when I left for the night our goodbyes were short and the Little Man seemed more than ready for the week ahead. I spent the night at the most adorable B&B after happily finding the only brewery open in town (because, Sunday) and spent most of the night standing next to our nearby neighbors (the cows) trying to get a cell signal in case the LM needed me. 

Centre Mills Bed & Breakfast (I cannot recommend this place enough if you find yourself in central Pennsylvania!)
Can you hear me now? These guys and I became great friends over the 12 hours I was there. ;)

I headed over to camp early the next morning, worried because I hadn't been able to get in touch with my boy, and found a tired little guy that was VERY happy to see his momma. I thought he would want me to quickly leave, but over the next three hours every time I tried to say goodbye he would get a little teary, and because of this I ended up staying through lunch. We finally found his friends and I said goodbye and immediately questioned whether it was the right choice to go back that next day. I felt better having had taken the time to walk him around, making sure he knew where everything was (the place is bigger than my college was) but it definitely made saying goodbye harder for him. He called me a few hours later in tears, and said he was having a great time but it was hard at night to not have us there. It was more of the same the next day, but the quiet tears became less and less and by Tuesday they had dried up completely. He still called quite a bit, but it was more of a "check in" and as long as I was very positive, he stayed pretty upbeat. We would conference call with my husband, and when Gray would get on the phone the LM would remark at how great it was to hear from the whole family. By the end of the week he was only calling 2-3 times a day, and even then it was just to tell us about some new trick he learned. 

On Saturday, I headed over to New Jersey to pick up my crew who had taken a bus and I have to say I had never been happier to see this face!

You can't tell from this picture but he was literally covered in dirt. I soon learned he had showered only once, had worn 1.5 outfits of the 8 we packed, and lived on Lucky Charms and hot dogs. Basically, he had a great camp experience! Even though I would have preferred a little more nutrition, and a dip in the pool, he took care of himself for an entire week and even brushed his teeth daily! Really, what more can we expect? He slept almost the entire way home, napped the next day, threw up, slept, napped, and was completely back to normal in about 36 hours. We scrubbed him from head to toe when he got back home, and then asked "when do you want to go back?"

I think this experience was so great for all of us. He was able to be independent in a way he could have never been at home, and even though it was so hard to hear how much he missed us, he stayed the course and we never wavered which I think is a great lesson for us all. He has a chance to go back at the end of the Summer and is still undecided, but says he definitely wants to go back next year. Since he's been home his passion for skateboarding has increased dramatically, and I've noticed little positive changes in his behavior! When he wakes up now he dresses himself without being asked. He straightens up more, and eats everything I put in front of him (clearly having learned a lesson about the benefit of healthy food.) He's found a renewed love of naps and bed time, and really seems to appreciate having his family around a little more. I'm sure some of these things will start to fade shortly, but for now we are all just reveling in our almost 8 year old acting just a little bit older than his years.

I'm hoping he decides to go back in August, but I'm not going to push. I had no idea what we were in for we we decided that this was a great idea, but as it turns out it was, in fact, a great idea!

I can't say enough positive things about Camp Woodward. If you have a skater, gymnast, or bmx'r you have to look at this place. It really is heaven on earth for these kids!