Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Camp Juniper Knoll
Every year at this time, I get an almost uncontrollable urge to order up some name tapes and sew them into all my t-shirts and shorts so I can pack up my trunk and head off to summer camp. I spent the central seven years of my childhood (ages 8 to 14) at sleep-over camp in Wisconsin. I'd go for the entire summer. People (especially if they don't know me well) sometimes laugh at me when I say that Girl Scout summer camp is largely responsible for making me what I am today, but that's true. And I miss it. I miss going off into the beautiful forest and lakeside and being entirely my own person -- away from family and friends and home to forge new friendships, to find a new temporary but real home, to find and explore and develop parts of myself that are outside of my everyday life. I grew up in Chicago, so spending the summers outdoors was a HUGE change and learning experience. And I loved it.
I'll add quickly here that I've given some of you the impression that, because I work in an elementary school, I have the entire summer off. Oh, if only! I do have some vacation time, but I will also still be working this summer -- it's not all fun and games (and crafts!).
Anyway, I have mixed feelings about the fact that Dean has NO interest in sleep-over camp. None. He'll do some day-camp stuff this summer (he is most looking forward to the two weeks at our local zoo's camp) but that's it. It's difficult when you feel you'd like to share important things from your childhood and your child has no interest at all. I know that there are plenty of good, healthy reasons for Dean's lack of interest. First off, we live in a very rural area already and spend a lot of time outdoors as a family, and we even camp together (my dad was scarred for life by having to camp his way through his Army service during the Korean Conflict and simply refused to set foot near a tent again). Next, Ken and I are not struggling to keep our marriage together nor hurtling toward divorce (as far as I know) -- there aren't angry battles and dinners of stony silence for him to escape. And as an only child (and not the youngest of four) he doesn't lack for attention or our time. I know these challenges in my own childhood were part of why getting away was so important to me. Perhaps someday, when he's ready, on his own terms, Dean will seek the kind of independence that comes from time spent away from your family. And I hope I'll be ready to let him go.