This summer, the girls hit a pretty big milestone. They spent one whole week away from home at a summer camp that was located 350 miles away!
I was beyond excited for them as we helped them to prepare for the week-long camp. One of my fondest childhood memories was getting to go to an overnight camp with my school in 5th grade, where I spent 3 days and nights with some of my best friends. I was truly excited that Brianne and Bridgette would now be able to share such an amazing experience together. And the cherry on top was having their cousins Jovian and Sherwin join them on this adventure as well!
The camp provided a helpful checklist to remind campers to include things like flashlight, insect repellant, and sunscreen. The girls did well packing on their own for this trip, though they barely managed to fit everything in their individual duffle bags! My sis and I refrained from “overseeing” this process, as we figured if they forgot to pack something, they’d have to suffer the consequences and learn from the experience. Nothing was so detrimental that the consequences would be dire if they left it at home.
The original plan was for us to drop the kids off at camp, but we later changed plans and opted for them to take the bus with other campers instead, as we felt it would give them the opportunity to get acquainted with others on the 6 hour ride there. So, we dropped them off at one of the bus pickup stops near our home early in the morning, checked them in with the camp counselor, and waved a bittersweet goodbye as my not-so-little-anymore daughter, niece and nephews excitedly went on their way….
Phone or internet access were not allowed at camp for the campers, so there really was no way for us to reach any of them (or vice versa) for the entire week. I’m sure if there was an emergency we’d be able to reach a camp counselor but short of that, we were just expected to sit tight for the week and to keep checking on the camp’s website for new photos that the counselors would try to upload daily.
And checked we did! My sister, cousins, and I were all refreshing that website every hour on the first few days, hoping desperately to get a glimpse of what our kids were doing through the photos. While we couldn’t find our kids in most of the photos that were uploaded, we were able to see all the incredibly fun activities that they were a part of, including whitewater rafting, pond time, horseback riding, ziplining, mountain biking, and so much more.
One week later, we were ecstatic to pick the kiddos up at the same bus stop. The first sight of them was one to remember! Bridgette had about a hundred bug bites just on their feet. All of their clothes were discolored and covered in dirt. They were several shades darker. Flies were literally hovering around them. I bursted into laughter when I saw them because it felt like they were returning after being stranded on some remote island for months. When the kids reunited with us, they were all talking over one another, as they were simply too excited to share all the wonderful stories from their week at camp. It was a wonderful reunion, and the amazing memories they created in one short week made it easy for us as parents to forget about the lack of hygiene (only 1 shower for the entire week!), the severe bug bites, and the amount of dirt that they brought back with them in their bags. 🙂
I’m so thankful the cousins got to share such this extraordinary experience together, and we definitely hope to make this an annual thing for them! Next time, they can probably pack much less since most clothes (and underwear) remained unworn in their bags. Clearly, showering was not a priority for these kiddos at camp. 🙂