Monday, July 19, 2010

Camp

The word "camp" connotes many different things to people.  For me, "camp" reminds me of that place where my mother sent me for a week, the summer before 8th grade, because I was on the verge of getting out of control.  I remember a cool monkey bridge, early morning swims in a lake hidden by a fog of condensation, making new short term friends and getting my first kiss. Not an overall bad experience, despite it being the summer we lost Thurman Munson.  And, FYI,  it didn't prevent me from my continuing spiral to the "dark side," if you consider some typical teen aged rebellion to be worthy of panic and punishment. Perhaps things might have turned out differently, Mom, if we had both stayed home, huh?

I've heard "camp" used as slang for the "big house" or prison.  This usage is probably most on par with how our two older boys would describe camp.  They definitely resent the structure a week of camp inflicts upon them during a 10 week stretch of being primarily on their own time frame.  I think that the timing of their camp week is a pretty good check in the otherwise unstructured block of time known as summer.  We purposefully do not over schedule their summers with enrichment and lessons because they are kids and we want them to simply have a chance to experience their own rhythm for a few weeks.  But, a week's worth of structure can only benefit all of us.  And it will provide me with an opportunity to prepare for our next getaway to the Wellfleet.

This is Liam's third summer at camp, and Griffin and Liam's second summer at their current camp in Rensselaer County. Liam's first camp experience was at Camp Chingachgook, which was a beautiful spot, but outrageously expensive (in my opinion) when we considered sending two boys.  I mean, seriously, I could book an additional week on the Cape for the entire family for the price of sending 2 kids to Chingachgook for a "week."  Week is in quotation marks because a "week" of camp is similar to an "hour" of therapy - not an accurate measurement of time, when week = Sunday through Friday.

When I picked up the boys from camp last year, they looked tired, their complexions were a bit darker (a combination of sun and dirt) and they seemed bigger, perhaps even slightly older.  They enthusiastically filled the car with their stories and experiences from the week and I got the impression that they had really enjoyed themselves.  I asked if they were already looking forward to next summer and they bombarded me with their lame criticisms of camp - the food, the lack of privacy, the being on a schedule... These are all valid complaints, but certainly issues which they will have to contend with for many, many years to come.  Why not learn some coping skills?  So, here we are, Summer 2010 and the big boys are at camp  (again) and Quinn is home with us for his own version of camp, or, as I like to call it, Boot Camp.  This little boy of ours needs some attention (or breaking, akin to a wild horse) before he heads off to the big K in September.

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