When our girls were younger, I couldn’t wait for summer. I’d make list upon list of all the fun ideas and activities we would fill our days doing. I’d gather supplies at the dollar store and dig through piles of the Grandmas’ goodies, finding treasures we could use. And then the first week of summer would come … and go … and we’d have done everything on the list and be ready for school to start again.
Finally, they were old enough not to need constant entertainment on my behalf. They began going to every Vacation Bible School our little town had to offer. Minus the ones that involved snakes, of course. And if a bus picked them up? Better for all of us! I could stay in my pajamas as I ushered them to the church bus and leisurely shower and look like I had purpose in my summer days by the time they showed back up at lunch time with their God’s eyes and crayon stained glass.
Soon enough, they couldn’t go to Vacation Bible Schools anymore. Not because we weren’t invited back (that only happened once), but because they were too old for most VBS activities. It was time for me to get serious about our summer time-fillers. Um, I mean our summer activities.
This is when I first discovered summer camps.
Prior to this particular summer, I lived in a very dark time. I lived in a time where I was constantly on edge for fear of hearing the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” I lived in an atrocious phase where our girls would decide to entertain themselves, only after they found the glitter, glue and gum balls. I lived in a paradoxical period where if the girls didn’t need constant supervision, I had enough time to clean 24/7 and perform small household repairs. Did I say small? I meant crazy-big-beyond-my-realm-of-expertise household repairs.
My friend Steven ran an art camp and sent home a flyer with the girls. He offered four weeks of instruction in four different media. I told him to sign me up for a small, medium, large and extra-large camp!
From there, we learned of baking camp, designed to let the girls learn about the fine art of baking while dirtying another kitchen and not my own. Y’all, I got to eat cupcakes without having to clean up one single sprinkle or flour splatter! Well, I still had the sprinkles and flour splatters, but that was only because the girls were still performing experiments in my kitchen because we hadn’t yet discovered …
After the rocket’s red glare had faded into the science camp night, we signed up for writing camp. Then metal working camp. And dance camp. And softball camp. And swimming camp. And Grandma camp. What? It’s a thing.
Actually, Grandma camp was actually a week with my mom when I couldn’t find any other camp for them to attend. And swimming camp was just swimming lessons. Cooking camp was just the local cafeteria during the early bird hours and green thumb camp was them mowing our lawn and weeding our flower beds.
It’s all how you spin it, my friends.
Eventually, day camps gave way to overnight camps and my gracious! What a world-changer that was. I would spend a weekend doing laundry, pack them up flanked by a suitcase and a sleeping bag and pick them up a week later. My husband and I slept in, ate without cutting up each other’s food or sneezing on it. We watched shows that weren’t animated or overrun with mouthy, singing tweens with absent parents. In a nutshell: we rested.
Now, please understand. I love our daughters. Truly, I do. And I love spending summers with them (as well as fall, winter and spring). But, after a while, every mom needs a break.
It’s not always easy to leave your children with strangers (or, worse yet, alone!) so you can listen to the sound of your own breath and not the sound of your fire alarm going off without any provocation other than a science experiment gone awry. (Science camp paid for itself over and over and over again with my girls.)
My heart simultaneously swelled with pride and broke at the thought—my girls were growing up. This year, my older daughter desired only to go to church camp. One week. That meant that 11 weeks, she’d be home contemplating how bored she was.
But, I’ve always been quick on my feet. I thought of a plan quick-quick. While she would be home, having outgrown her sister, having outgrown summer camp, having outgrown the need for constant entertainment (I hoped), I would be at the lake … at Mom Camp.
What? It’s a thing.
Heather Davis is a momma, a writer, and a camp-counselor extraordinaire. You can contact her via her website, www.Heather-Davis.net.