Yesterday on THE MOMS Sirius XM Stars 106 radio show, hosts Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein were talking about how they had sent their kids to camp that morning and it was, essentially, a nice relief. A longer day for them to pursue what they want to do: work and other personal pursuits.
They received a call from a woman who chewed them out for “celebrating” that their kids were out of the house. She said it was wrong to send their kids to camp, that it was allowing other people to raise their kids, that our society is falling apart.
Sending your kids to camp is allowing other people to raise them? WHAAAAAT? My thoughts…
Camp is an amazing place where kids get to have fun, interact with other kids and adults, experience new things, learn how to operate in the world.
Keeping your kids home with you all summer (I don’t know how old the caller’s kids are or how many she has) is really nice in theory. The first day. Then it’s just a lot of time to entertain your kids. There are only so many popsicles you can mold, flowers you can plant, walks you can take before you become bored. Before the mama wants to pull her hair out because the days are so frickin long. Because her kids are fighting with each other all day. Because they need to go to camp!
There’s a wonderful book by Michael Thompson, PhD called Homesick and Happy—How Time Away From Parents Can Help a Child Grow. Caller, buy this book.
I sent my three boys to camp as soon as camp would take them. It gave them something to do all day. It gave me a break from mothering so I could recharge my batteries and be a better, less frazzled, less cranky mom. It gave us stuff to talk about at the end of the day as I unpacked their soggy backpacks filled with crinkled art projects, damp swim towels, and happiness. And they’ve been going to camp ever since. Two of my boys are at a traditional seven-week all-boys sleep away camp in the mountains. They couldn’t wait to get on the bus. And one of my boys is doing a series of sleep away camps (computer camp at a college upstate! camping trip in a national park!) and day camps (farm camp! coding camp!). Is that allowing other people to raise them? That thought is asinine to me.
We’re so fortunate that we have the means to send them to camp. They’re so fortunate that they get the opportunity to expand their horizons, experience new things in life, and meet new friends. I’m so fortunate that I get some extra time in my days to focus on me. Is that selfish? If it is, so be it. That’s just a word. The result is a well and balanced and happy mother. And how can that be bad?
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Mixed feelings here. My boys both at camp they are 10 and 12, 4th summer. I lived for camp, went forever.
However, I think there’s a fine line between recharging and celebrating. I relish the time to read the paper and walk home from work. I also appreciate being honest about enjoying this- some time alone or with your spouse can be lovely. .But there’s also a degree of something that smells disrespectful to the children. Someone in my office brought up a mother’s instagram feed in which she seemed a little too thrilled to “ship the kids off”. It wasn’t about all the great things they can do a tcamp but all the great things she wanted to do without them. And sometimes those most ecstatic to have kids away are the ones who spend least time with them (judgey sounding I know). So, while I don’t think these hosts should’ve been reprimanded by a stranger and I didn’t hear the broadcast I do see how this could come across…especially if you didn’t go to camp for a million years as I did.
Sending your kids to camp is the most selfless thing you can do. It’s hard to give them up for 7 weeks. But ask any former camper and they will say that sleep away camp was the best experience of their life and transformational! Ask any college kid and they will tick off how they found their college roommate or their study abroad classmate through the sleep away camp friend network! Camp is a huge gift for the kids and so what if those parents at the bus stop or airport are crying- ” only 48 days of freedom left!”” It is a break for the parents but they can occupy their days obsessively looking for photos on the camp website of those very same kids they just got rid of!!! Everyone wins!!
it’s funny….i went to camp for 8 summers, 8 weeks, and 30 something years later i am still the best of friends with my camp buddies. my husband and i now have 3 children, and the idea of sending them to camp gives us a stomach ache. after lots of begging, we finally let our oldest go for 3 weeks. but not a day more. and we’re praying the younger ones don’t beg us to go. so we DON’T send them because we are selfish. we want them to ourselves, and we feel the time slipping away. in the end, everyone has to decide what ‘feels right’ to them. and i think it’s always a moving target.