d : a place usually in the country for recreation or instruction often during the summer
Yesterday, I drove A to her very first sleepover camp. I've known about this camp for years because our former church supports it. Each year, I would see videos of footage from camp and think, "I can't wait to send my daughters there!" And then the years flew by. Last year, I realized A was old enough for this camp. We discussed sending her, but I decided she just wasn't independent enough to be gone from us for four nights and five days. She's certainly been gone from home that long (many times), but only at the home of a relative. I wasn't convinced she could handle sunscreen application and other mundane daily activities without our assistance and reminders. So we set a few goals to get her ready to attend this year. She gladly complied (she's willing to be independent if there's a large enough incentive) and we signed her up a few months ago.
A was excited to sign up to attend camp, but has been nervous for the last few weeks as camp drew nearer. One night, she tearfully shared some of her fears: "How will I know where the cafeteria is?" "What about restrooms?" "What if I'm late for something?" My little rule follower wanted to know and understand in advance exactly what was expected of her. J and I patiently explained that none of the campers would know these things, so everyone would be told when they arrived. And we reminded her that one of her friends from school would be in her cabin with her. They had intentionally signed up for the same session so that they would each have a friend there. That calmed her a bit, but she continued to be nervous leading up to camp.
Then, the night before camp, the mom of A's friend mentioned in an e-mail that she'd had a call the week prior from a camp staff person. I received no such call. This ignited all of my own fears: "What if they don't have her registration? (Never mind that they gladly accepted our payment.)" "What time am I supposed to arrive? I can't find it anywhere on the website!" "What if she has a horrible time?" So I did what any sane person would do: I stayed awake until well after midnight reading a book to distract myself. This seemed like a good coping mechanism at the time, but certainly contributed to my fatigue yesterday after driving three hours to camp and back.
On the drive through scenic Kentucky, I admitted to A that I was nervous, too. B had been telling A that it was clear she was nervous because she kept laughing. (Aren't sisters great?) So I wanted A to know she wasn't alone. Interestingly, once I admitted my own nervousness, A started comforting me. She reminded me that she's been away from home before. She reminded me that this is a camp we can trust. Things that I needed to hear, even if I stayed nervous for the remainder of the ride.
Drop off at camp went fine. When we pulled up, an acquaintance was arriving with his daughters and two campers from the ministry where he works. Turns out he's the pastor for the week. He introduced his daughter to mine. A's friend arrived almost exactly when we did. We got them checked in. A counselor walked us to their cabin. And A was fine. We got her settled in. B got jealous and wanted to stay. K didn't want to leave A's upper bunk. A said it was OK for us to go. I snapped two quick pics of her and we were off.
Our family wrote letters to A for her to open each day while she's at camp. In one my letters to her, I told her how proud I am of her. I am proud of her, but also in awe that she is old enough to go to camp all alone for five days. I hope she's having a great time. Our family misses her: K said tonight, "Poor A. She's not living with our family this week." But I suppose it's just a foretaste of many moments to come: future camps, college, marriage. I'm not ready for any of those things. But I suppose that's why God gives us grace for the moment. Because A will be ready for all of those things in due time. And she'll pull me along with her, proud of her, awed by her, sad to watch her go.