School trip is growing experience — for me

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Our sixth-grade son, Wonderboy, has gone to camp. Camp being yet another thing the school district cooked up specifically to test me.
Much like the whole “Fifth graders totally belong in middle school with big giant huge children who look like they eat fifth graders for mid-morning snack!”

They have helpfully decided that in sixth grade, having survived the first year of middle school intact, they should up the ante and send the students to three days of sleep-away camp.

Not much choice

They have done this for something like 25 years now and since all the natives are brainwashed into thinking this is fabulous fun — we all have to agree or be marked as “Those people who are not from around here.”

Technically, we are branded that way anyway, but since I still hold dear my aspirations to crack the Superintendent’s Parental Advisory Committee (otherwise known as Prom Court for Grown Ups) it pays to swallow the party line.

Granted, all the older students, former camp survivors themselves, wax rhapsodic about the wonders of camp. They speak at length about the lakeside learning, the hands-on demonstrations, the time they took all the bunks and stacked them up out on the lawn.

Roughing it

Although Wonderboy has gone camping with the Scouts many times before, this trip is decidedly different. He is “roughing it” with everyone from his entire grade.

As in nearly any large group, this equates to roughly 99 percent really great kids being raised by parents who aim to instill compassion and understanding in their young, and 1 percent or so who are being raised by wolves.

Obviously, it’s the feral, free-range children who give a mother pause. Furthermore, unlike all those other camps where either his father or a close family friend are on hand to phone home from remote mountain location from time to time to assure me they were all still alive, this is a no-contact-camp.

“Don’t call us, we’ll call you!” they said.

The camp counselor cheerfully advised us to hope and pray they don’t because they only call you for bad news. No calls. Check!
As I packed his bags with toothpaste (I think he’ll use), soap (I hope he’ll use) and shampoo (not a chance he’ll use) I had a chance to muse on this.

No idea what he’s doing

For three days I will have no earthly idea what my child is doing. He will be someplace I have never gone; with people I have never met and will experience things I know nothing about. In my day they called that “college.”

Bright and early Wednesday morning, I hugged him (at home), kissed him (in the car) and dropped him off in the school parking lot.
There he tossed his bags into the back of the oldest equipment bus in creation (I think it was horse-drawn) and sauntered on to the travel bus with one too-cool backward wave to dear old mom. Gosh, but I do hate those long goodbyes.

Thus I haven’t heard from my firstborn for days. The funny thing is that I know that all the really stellar moms wring their hands and say they are “worried sick” about their kids but the truth is, I’m not worried at all. I have faith. He’ll be fine. It’s good for him.

Part of growing up

I bet he hardly even misses us because he’s having too much fun. Somehow in our six years of public schools I’ve grown assured of his ability to exist outside of presence. This must be that growing up I’ve heard so much about.
If not a cutting of the apron strings, an untangling and real good stretch at the very least. Which is, after all, what being “almost a teenager” is all about.

This afternoon at 2 p.m., they will deliver our children back to us. That’s only seven hours, 19 minutes and 11 seconds (give or take) — but who’s counting?

The school calls it an educational experience. The kids call it “super cool.” 

Me? I think it’s a parental training practice designed to wear us down for future spring breaks.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt — and her son — had a lovely time during camp week. She welcomes comments c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or http://kymberlyfosterseabolt.blogspot.com.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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