When your 11 year old goes to 5th grade camp and you miss him, he might not miss you as much as you thought he would. Which is probably a good thing. Fly little birdie fly. (sniff, sniff)
Owen just finished 48 hours away from home at 5th grade camp. This was his first camp-out without his dad. He’s done Cub Scouts before but always with his dad. And dad always had a cell phone. So I would text and check updates, looking for Facebook pictures or statuses.
But this time, no dad. No cell phones. It felt weird.
I completely trusted him in the care of his teacher and the other adults there. But I wondered if he was missing me. Did he let tears fall on his pillow at night when the cabin was dark and he heard every little creak and hum? When he could hear other campers snoring and he felt far from home and alone did he muffle his cries in his pillow? Okay, so that was me when I was 11 at camp. Not that I’m trying to impress my experiences on him, but I did have a certain empathy for what he might be going through.
Camp is an exhilarating and exhausting rite of passage for kids this age. A bonding experience with classmates that if you’re lucky, you’ll have camp memories 30 years later with those friends and you form Facebook groups.
I even remember my camp songs, the Smokey The Bear award, the film canister survival kit I made, the weird ‘hamburger surprise’ dinner that was served that first night.
I remember crying while saying good bye to the friends I made from other schools. We wrote letters to each other for probably the following 6 months and then lost touch.
Owen said there were no tears shed. He said the food was awful but they still cleared their plates.
They measured their ‘ort’ or leftovers, for their table. Only take what you’re going to eat. I love camp. Sharing the value of limiting waste! He said by the last meal his table had zero ort.
He shared the songs his cabin sang when they had to line up for meal times. A different one each time, they would line up, sing their song or chant, and the cabin with the best, got to go in the dining hall first. A sample of one of them to the tune of Selena Gomez’s, “If You’re Ready Come and Get It”- “Lunch is ready, come and get it, nanana na na na.” He said they won pretty much every time.
They performed a skit and won the trophy for best skit. Or something like that.
He told me about a tumble he took off of some tight rope. That didn’t sit too well with me. But hey, he’s fine. It’s camp, not Navy Seals. Or Meatballs.
I was disappointed to hear there was no Square Dancing. How do you not have Square Dancing? We had Square Dancing. What is camp without the humiliation and exhilaration of having to touch a boy’s hand? Hoping he won’t know that yours are sweaty.
O Johnny O Johnny O was my favorite. I can do it for you if you’d like. Maybe a YouTube video?
I have to at least teach Owen. Do si do-ing and going to your ‘corner girl’, THAT is what camp is!
So Owen got off the bus looking exhausted but happy. He smelled of camp fire and hair gel. He asked for Starbucks. Then he went home, changed his clothes, grabbed his iPhone and was out the door to a friend’s house!
Wait just a minute.
Where was my chit chat over tea and scones? I needed to hear every detail!
Hmm. It wasn’t going to happen at that moment. I needed to let him go and let him run off his antsy feeling of connecting with the friends that didn’t go to camp.
Eventually, he shared a whole bunch over a game of 2 square in the driveway with me. Trust me, I will keep drawing camp details out of him as the days go on. I’m guessing there will be several rounds of Foosball, 2 square, and hoops to get him to talk.
I’m okay with that.