Our First Summer Camp Experience

I’ll admit, I was never a big fan of summer camps. I didn’t go to one as a kid because my grandmother watched me while my parents worked. As a parent myself, I’ve always been around during the summer so I didn’t necessarily need a camp for childcare. I work from home, so in the summer I can usually manage things enough to get my jobs done…usually. My solution is waiting for my kids to go to sleep to get things done, kind of like right now as I’m writing this.

But, this summer, a one-week soccer camp peaked our interest. Well, really my interest and that of my 5-year-old. My 7-year-old wanted no part of it. She was “Camp Mom” all the way and let everyone know it. But, I could tell the idea intrigued my little one because she truly loves the game. Quite frankly, she’s pretty darn good at it for a 5-year-old. But, she wanted her big sister to go along with her. I could tell that wasn’t going to happen.

I sat on the whole camp idea the weeks leading up to the registration. When it came down to saving a few bucks to register early, I needed a final answer. Momma doesn’t play around when there’s money to be saved! My older daughter still wasn’t budging, but my little soccer beast was all in! I was also curious to know more about this camp thing that everyone raves about all the time.

It was all soccer goals and smiles until the first morning. The idea of getting up like it was a school day was anything less than exciting. The fact that it was only for five mornings was my biggest motivator. During the drive there, I could smell hesitation in the air when my little asked her sister if she was sure she didn’t want to come. After a definite “no”, my little knew she was on her own. When we got there she didn’t leave my side for the first few minutes but when I told her I couldn’t stay and would be back in three short hours, she ran off and started to play with the familiar faces she saw.

When those three short hours were over (and I mean short, there’s no way you can get anything done in that time) she as all smiles at pick-up time. During the drive home when I asked her what she did, she gave me a complete rundown of all the skills she learned and the scrimmage that was played. It felt like a win-win all around until she admitted she cried. When she told me it was because she missed me, my heart sank. Did I do the right thing sending her? Should I have kept her home? As much as I felt like the world’s worst mom, I got over it quick! I knew deep down that this was good for her. Besides learning soccer skills, she was also learning how to manage on her own without relying on her big sister. Did I mention the fact that she was pooped everyday and slept like a rock star each night?

As the week progressed, the wake-ups didn’t get any easier, but the drop-offs and pick-ups did. She was having fun and learning new things and meeting new kids. I guess that’s what this camp thing is all about, right? As much as I was a camp skeptic, I can see now why so many kids and parents love it. It sure does keep the kids busy and is a lifesaver during the summer for many working parents.

Who knows, in the future we may trying out different summer camps, but for now it’s still “Camp Mom” for most of the time, and truthfully I’m okay with that!

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