Friday

Summer Camp: Hard on Mom




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My boys had summer camp this week.  They have all gone to half-day camps in the past, but this one was an all-day camp.  And this week, I learned one thing: camp is hard.

For me.  Camp is hard for me.

This particular camp was sponsored by the YMCA and held at our "country club."

(Now the reason that I put "country club" in quotes is because it's not that kind of country club.  When Hubby first suggested joining I immediately thought of lots of snobby people high standards and exclusivity.  But ours isn't really like that at all.  In fact, it's terribly relaxed, a bit more so than Hubby would prefer.  For me?  Eh, it's a place to swim, chat with moms from school, have brunch on Sundays and work out.  It's all good.)

The week before camp, we received a letter outlining all of the items our children would need to bring to camp:
  •  A swimsuit and towel. I figured. 
  • Sunscreen.  I'd just put it on in the morning. 
  • Bug spray.  Not in the hands of my spastic boys!
  • A morning and afternoon snack.  Mmmkay, can't the YMCA or the "country club" go to Costco and buy some bags of Cheez-its?
  • Water bottle and extra water.  Wait.  Aren't there drinking fountains there?
  • A sack lunch.  For as much as I paid for this camp, I'd think they could spring for some box lunches.  But, I can see where that would be iffy, what with all the food allergies kids have these days.  So, I'll give them this one.

Come Monday morning, as I'm scrambling to get all of these items ready, Knox pulled the same crap he does every time we are about to go someplace new, "I don't wanna go!" 

And as always, I said, "Tough. You're signed up.  You're going."  And I thought, Wahoo, I'm getting rid of 75% of my kids for most of the day!

As we walked in, the one camp counselor who was there with the sixteen or so children was passing out Skittles to them.  Lovely strategy on the first day of camp.   I guess it gives new meaning to the term "happy campers."

As Baby E and I walked out, I worried about the other boys.  Would they make any new friends? How would they behave?  Would they know which items in their lunch boxes were for snack and which would be for lunch?  How would Slim get along?  More importantly, would the camp counselors be patient with him and include him?

I had a sick feeling in my stomach that this camp would be like something out of the movie Meatballs.


I didn't have time to think about all of it that much because I had a hella busy day.  Part of it included taking Lil' C to the doctor.  When I asked him how camp was, he said it was fun.

"Slim got in trouble, though.  He was trying to take candy without asking."

My blood boiled a bit at this news, both at Slim's lack of social skills and at the counselors for having provided the candy temptation in the first place.

There was no mention of this when I picked up the other boys, just lots of "camp was awesome" comments.  And while that made me feel a little better about camp, the next morning as I was again scrambling to make lunches and pack waters and snacks and sunscreen because apparently the counselors made Knox put on more and he had to borrow someone else's so couldn't I just put some in his backpack, I was stressed all over again - this time about Slim.

We are trying a new ADHD medication with him this summer.  It is a stimulant, and typically he has not done well with stimulants.  He doesn't sleep or eat well and his tummy hurts and his anxiety over bees and bugs and other things is heightened.  He didn't swim Monday afternoon; rather, he ran around the pool as the counselors tried to urge him in it.

So Tuesday morning, I hung around a bit after drop-off and observed Slim.  While all the other campers were playing "hot potato," he was running around the circle excitedly.

And none of the counselors was trying to get him to join in. 

And as always, I felt the need to "explain him" to the nearest counselor.

SInce I knew he wasn't going to swim in the afternoon, I picked him up at noon when I picked up Lil' C (his camp was only half-day).

The next day, Knox was complaining of a tummy ache and asking if he could come home at noon like Lil' C and Slim had the day before.  My head hurt from all the chaos and whining, and Hubby had the day off, so I let him deal with it.

He picked them all up at noon and took them to the driving range.  I seriously wish I could just not think that much about things.

Thursday was the big field trip to a local indoor waterpark.  The date loomed like a black mark on the calendar.  All week I kept replaying in my mind every accidental waterpark drowning I have ever heard about.

When the day arrived, it turned out that Lil' C's group didn't get to go and Slim didn't feel well as he slept barely a wink the night before.  Since Knox would be going without his brothers, I drilled reminders into his head: Swim with a buddy.  Stay in shallow water.  Don't dive in.  Don't go anywhere with any adults other than the counselors.

Needless to say, he looked a bit nervous as I dropped him off.

After camp, I asked if he had fun at the waterpark.

"Not really. I didn't have anyone to play with since Slim and Lil' C didn't go and my friend Jack wasn't there today."

My mama heart broke a little bit.

But later at dinner, he was excitedly telling Daddy and Slim and Lil' C all about the waterpark.

Today is the last day. I will pick all the boys up early because we have a family wedding this weekend.  And they will end camp as they started it - together.

And I will end my week less organized and more stressed, but a little wiser about all-day summer camp.


Next week Slim has afternoon camp at our Children's Museum downtown, which is about a 20-30 minute drive from our house.  My plan, so I don't have to drive back and forth, is to stay downtown and sit at a coffee house and write.  Fifteen delicious hours to write brilliant essays that will make me rich and famous.

Yeah, I don't think that'll happen.  But stay tuned.  Maybe there will be at least one free  little known brilliant essay here next week.

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