MIA at Summer Sleepaway Camp

So we sent Crazy to sleep-away camp a little over a week ago, and we’ve been without communication ever since. The kids weren’t allowed to bring their cell phones, which I wholeheartedly endorsed and which enticed me to send him in the first place, but I figured during the two-weeks’ time he was away he’d be able to call home at some point. We’ve gotten one phone call, but that was from a camp counselor the day after we dropped him off just letting us know everything was going smoothly. Evidently, and I didn’t know this because I’m unfamiliar with camp ethos, the kids aren’t allow communication with their parents except for writing letters. Which NEVER CAME. Not that I’m hurt.

In place of phone calls the camp posts photos daily on its Facebook page, but the page consists of about 500 unedited pictures in no particular order, and you have to scroll through to see if you can spot the back of your kid’s head in the bottom left-hand corner of the 405th photo.

When your kid goes MIA at Summer Sleepaway Camp

Apparently, Crazy’s camera shy because I’ve only found him in about 3 photos, two of which were from the first two days so I don’t know if he’s still alive. The camp advised parents to pack stationary with stamps, which I dutifully did, but nothing from my sweet baby boy has arrived yet. The past few days I’ve raced to the front door the moment I heard the mail shoved through the slot. Yesterday I was certain a little envelope would be there addressed in barely legible handwriting to me, but still nothing. The little brat hasn’t written me once. Parents are allowed to send email to the camp, which the counselors will then deliver to the kids. I’ve written to him every day. Mostly my emails are filled with questions asking why he hasn’t written me yet. This has not produced the desired result. I wish the camp had mandatory letter writing time because that would be the only way to get Crazy to pick up a pen. I know his silence is probably a good sign. He must be busy having fun, but two weeks is a long time to go without any form of communication with your child. I just want confirmation he’s having fun, that he likes it there, that he’s not home sick. Am I just supposed to take the counselor’s word for it? How do I know he’s not lying? His job is to make sure the kids have fun. Of course he’s going to say that. I’m no fool.

Before we left Crazy at the camp, I even quizzed him as to whether he knew our complete address. Remarkably he did, but I wrote it down for him anyway just in case. Maybe today’s the day I’ll get a letter. A mom can hope.

I don’t know how typical this is because I’ve never sent a kid off to camp before. I suspect it’s fairly typical, but I still want to know if I should be mad at him right now because I’m a little mad. Or should I just be happy he’s probably having fun although there’s no way for me to know because he’s never written me?

I finally contacted the mom of the friend he went with to see if her son ever wrote her because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the only mother who’s son didn’t love her anymore, and thankfully she never received correspondence either. I was so relieved. BUT she did say she sent her son 2 care packages while he was gone. I’m like, Care packages? I didn’t know I was supposed to be sending care packages. They went to camp not college. And only for 2 weeks. By the time he received the care package, I would be at camp picking him up. Plus, what would I even put in the care package? The kids aren’t allowed to have candy or electronics, and those are the only things he cares about. So no care packages from me. But that’s ok because I never received a letter from him.

I guess we’re square.

Where’s My Summer Camp?

When I opened up the Sunday New York Times over the weekend and found an article on sleep-away camps for women, I said to myself, “Finally, someone took my idea seriously.”

It was about time. I had the idea years ago when I had my first encounter with summer camp, or more accurately, when I first had to research camps for my kids after my town’s camp failed to be a viable option any longer (they tended to lose kids much like the clothes dryer tends to lose socks – you know you put both in, but one always goes missing).

Admittedly, my camp intelligence was lacking, but that day my eyes were opened to the dazzlingly diverse world of summer camp. I was mystified by the extraordinary breadth and scope of recreational activities designed to create a spectacular summer experience for kids. There was, quite possibly, a camp for every single activity on earth.

It was then I had the epiphany. Why in God’s name are we sending kids to camp instead of adults?

If anyone needs a camp, it would be us. I mean how stressful can life be for a kid? They don’t work. They don’t cook. They don’t do laundry. Or go food shopping. Or even put their dishes in the sink. They don’t have a mortgage to pay. They don’t plan for their future. And, most importantly, they don’t have kids. What on earth do they need to get away from?

Among the varied and almost limitless options unearthed by my research were a knitting camp, a tech and gaming camp, a yoga camp, a few fashion camps, several theater camps, tons of art and sports camps, and a a gifted and talented camp. Then there was a camp to learn how to shape hot molten glass; a rock-and-roll camp to teach children the important life skill of rocking out on stage; a drumming circle camp, where one can learn “earth-based beats” and chant a “root mantra;” a Tae Kwon Do camp; and a zoo camp. I think that last one is just a way for the zoo to get free pooper scoopers, though. Well, actually, you have to pay to be a pooper scooper.

But that’s not all. I also found a circus camp to train youngsters in the fine art of juggling, plate spinning and slapstick aimed at those parents who hold aspirations for their children to become circus clowns. I even discovered a Magic for Muggles camp.

I considered submitting an application to the volleyball camp I came across, but it was only offered for 5th through 8th grade girls, and while I look young for my age, I thought the counselors might catch on. I was quite bereft over the situation since my volleyball class ended for the summer, and no volleyball courses are offered for women with the skill set of 5th to 8th grade girls. Which seemed a little unfair. If you ask me, it appeared to be blatant age-discrimination.

The one camp that really caught my attention, though, was the Surf and Turf Adventure Camp. This wasn’t so much a camp as a land-based cruise ship. The camp boasted a full-fueled, action-packed summer of rafting, hiking, tubing, biking, canoeing, spelunking, and surfing. I’m pretty sure you also got to take a zip-line tour through a tropical jungle somewhere in the continental United States. And, by you, I mean your kid.

That’s what I’m talking about. Do you think I’m going to shell out $500 a week for my kids to go have all the experiences I want to have?

And, I didn’t even get to all the sleep-away camps we’re missing out on. Or were until I read the article in The New York Times. I’m just thankful someone finally saw the travesty of it all had the good sense to take me up on my idea.

Now, if I could just get two weeks to myself in the summer.


Photo: Flickr/jhecking