Camp is part of our summer tradition. Or at least it has meant that for the past 10 years.
So the fact that I got to go to camp last weekend felt like going home.
I also got to see my youngest son, now 16 years old, as the male lead in the camp play.
How much fun is that?
I soaked up ever minute, every cheesy line, every missed cue and ever bead of sweat as I sat uncomfortably on a wooden bench in a the hot, stuffy theatre in the woods, while juggling my iPhone and my DSLR camera. I was determined to get great shots and video of as much as I could.
I was not just attending THIS CAMP PLAY….
I was attending the LAST CAMP PLAY.
I have three kids that went through this camp since they were each 10 years old.
They are all teenagers now of course. My kids got involved in all kinds of things over the years; most of the time, as a parent, I would get to see things on the camp photo sharing site, Camper InTouch. But, with plays, I have had lots of opportunity over the years to see live performances. Because my kids are musical, I’ve also been lucky with music shows…there’s always a performance of some kind on visitor’s day.
My kids went on to be staff at this camp too. Camp became a home away from home.
But when kids become staff, parents don’t go to camp anymore to see them. You only get invited to go on visitor’s day when you have campers. When they are staff, you typically go to the nearest town, book a hotel room, and invite them for a hot shower and a decadent meal. No more “at camp visitation”. Sometimes, you don’t even go to camp to see them because you’re on a fabulous vacation without kids, lol.
Camp plays are unique. At this camp, parents of kids who perform in the play get an EXTRA invitation to camp. Extra bonus for your thousands of dollars spent to send them to the camp in the first place.
I live about a five-hour drive or so from the camp, so it’s not like I can just pop over and watch the show. It’s a bigger deal.
This play was the last camp play I will see live because my youngest is now a CIT (counselor in training) and his camper days are soon over. He will hopefully be hired on as staff next year. But as I explained, it’s unlikely I will physically go to the camp again in the near future.
What a pleasure it was when I found out that the music show was going to be held down at the beach right after the play! I also have a son is on music staff and plays drums. Double bonus for me!!!
Sending kids to camp is such a gift.
There’s no place on earth quite like it. I didn’t get to go to an overnight camp like this when I was young. But my husband did. And he also has such fond memories. Kids make friends for life and really grow up at camp. Yes, there are shenanigans (the type that make great stories for decades) but overall, it’s just a solid experience that shapes a young life forever.
There are bonuses for parents too. My husband and I would have never been able to take five unbelievably fantastic vacations alone without camp. Some might say the price of sending three kids to camp for the whole summer was a high price to pay for a vacation without kids, but I tend to disagree. Where else can you leave your kids with that kind of supervision? There’s not much to worry about when they are at camp. They are happy. There’s a doctor on staff. There is supervision in place.
The biggest bonus of this bittersweet moment of my last kid at camp though is…..it’s also the last time we have to PAY for camp! One by one, each of my kids has graduated from camper to staff and it’s a relief to be paying less for sure.
That’s the thought I’ve decided to go with. When I think about this transition from a place of loss, it makes me feel sad and old. But when I think of it from a place of having more funds to spend doing amazingly fun things with my kids, it makes me feel happy and exhilarated!
The thing to remember about thoughts is that we can control them. It’s so empowering. Transitions like this can be hard, but they can also be exciting. I love watching my kids growing and experiencing new things. Graduating from camp is one of the milestones of having older kids and being smack dab in the middle of my midlife chapter. I’m just going to have to cope, but I will focus on doing it MY WAY. A way that makes me feel good.
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