Recreating Nostalgia: Why I’m Sending My Daughter to Overnight Camp

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy….” Growing up, my Grandma sang that song to me as a lullaby. She lived on a lake at the time, and the breeze would flow in the open door, jingling the brightly colored fish wind chime in the corner of the room, almost in time with Grandma’s voice. That’s still my favorite song and my favorite season.

In those days, summer was simple. Easygoing. A lot of time spent at the beach, on our lake or in a pool. I rode my bike to my best friend’s house who lived a few streets over (and our parents didn’t know what we were up to or where in the neighborhood we were). There were skinned knees, dripping ice cream and late nights watching fireflies.

Do you remember those days, mamas? The nostalgic summers of old? I don’t know about you, but it’s not quite the same with my own kids. Even though we run on a less hectic, non-school year schedule, summer is BUSY. There’s simply a lot we like to do!

Don’t get me wrong, we still have lazy days, impromptu boat rides, ice cream and the “Mom, I’m BOOOORED!” However, my kids, at ages 8 and 10, are creating their own summer experiences, and today’s summer is different than the 1980’s and 1990’s.

When I stop to reflect though, as my sister and I grew up, we became busier, more involved with swim team and other extracurricular activities that started encroaching on our laid-back summers at home.

But even then, in the dog days of summer, the heat of August, I went to overnight camp. It was my summer saving grace, the time when, for a week or two, I was completely carefree. Well before cell phones, at camp, I was disconnected from my everyday life and routine at home. Yet I was very MUCH connected to a new group of people, whom I didn’t know the week before. And, we quickly became friends.

               Spring Hill Summer Camp, 1994

As a mother, I now can make a laundry list of life skills and benefits that overnight camp provided – personal growth, independence, teamwork, leadership, self-care, communication skills, risk-taking and more. As a kid, I simply remember pure joy. For a period each summer, that camp setting, which offered so many new experiences and opportunities, was home.

I think we all long to share a piece of our own childhood with our children. So this year, after the summer swim season is over, and the dog days are upon us, I am giving the gift of overnight camp to my 10-year old daughter.

For a week, she will leave me and our home. This is the first time she will take such a large step. And she could not be more EXCITED! I’m thrilled about that. I mean, I am the one who encouraged her in the first place. Will I miss her? Desperately. Will I wonder what she’s doing, if she’s safe, if she’s having fun or if she’s homesick? Every second. But I know what a positive impact summer camp has on a girl her age, and I want that for her.

          Black River Farm & Ranch Summer Camp, 1993

I feel this overnight camp experience will capture a bit of that nostalgia that I have been seeking, for myself and my children. My daughter is going off on her own, my independent and spirited girl, to make her own summer memories that I hope she will someday look back upon as fondly as I do.

How do you feel about summer camp, ladies?
Did you ever go? Do you kids, or will they?

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