It just does matter - why you should send your kid to camp!

The mom blogosphere is overflowing with stories about tears and triumph and tomfoolery on the subject of taking kids to summer camp. I am having a good damn time reading them. I’m having an even better time knowing that the words of wisdom of other mothers who drink and swear (and fathers) who have been through the lump in your throat, torn between jumping for joy and screaming out in grief feelings and experiences related to sending a kid away to camp for the first time. Please watch brief video. I’ll still be here when you get back.

That fabulous clip is from the OLD AS DIRT (okay fine - 1979) movie called “Meatballs,” and if you don’t think that Bill Murray leading the charge of “It just doesn’t matter!” is quite possibly one of the best motivational speeches of all time (Suck on that, Tony Robbins), then you and I just have to agree to disagree. Also you should know that you are wrong. But I digress….

Camp – is there anything like going to camp? I THINK NOT!

First there is that initial feeling of trepidation on the first day when you don’t know anyone and THEN all the AMAZING STUFF that happens in what is actually a very short time, but feels like a lifetime because you make memories and friendships that last a lifetime? Yeah - all that.

So as I read all the long blogs by moms who are much like me, wondering where the time has gone and how it can be possible that we have kids old enough to go to sleep away camp, I tell myself three things. Three things that I need to file under, “It just doesn’t matter,” when they try to invade my mom brain and stress me out about my kid being away from me at camp for the first time ever.

Thing one: It’s okay that my kid forgot to re-pack his bathroom kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.) at the hotel at the halfway point we stayed at when bringing him to camp, because all of my other moms friends who have experience with this told me that there are good odds that he won’t shower THE WHOLE F*&KING TIME ANYWAY! He will smell like a rotten fish and maybe even not change his underwear at all so why the hell would I spend $69 bucks to over-night ($25 bucks for a two day arrival) SOAP to a kid who rarely uses it at home?

It just doesn’t matter.

Thing two: When I hugged him before we left and sniffed the top of his head and almost threw up on that sweet head because I couldn’t stomach the idea of being so far away from him for so long, and HE let go no less than 10 times during that hug, trying to get me go the hell home so he could get to getting his fun on at camp, it was actually a good thing. He’s sleep away camp ready and what I really want for him in life is to grow up and eventually do his own thang-a-lang anyhow, so that wriggling away from my vice-like embrace isn’t a Mom diss, and even if it was a bit of a “don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out,” kind of thing, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me.

It just doesn’t matter.

Thing three: It’s okay that I have adjusted to the fact that his nickname is GOAT: Greatest of all time. As a matter of fact, it’s a good thing that I had some months to get used to it, because I would have asked him what kind of smug ass nonsense that noise was all about and THAT wouldn’t be one of his greatest of all time memories of me, especially if I embarrassed the shit out of him on his first day of camp when the counselor asked him what he liked to be called. He is figuring out who he is and if he doesn’t mind being nicknamed after a filthy farm animal that eats tin cans and railroad ties (I watched a LOT of cartoons as a kid), why should I care? I decided to be glad that he didn’t turn out to be the nervous Rudy-esque character from the movie “Meatballs,” seeking out the head camp counselor to help him fit in. My kid let ‘em know up front that he liked to be called “the goat.” REALLY? Ugh, I had to let that go because ……….

It just doesn’t matter.

So to all the mommas and dads out there who are letting go for the first time, or merely struggling year after year trying to figure out how the hell to prepare your kid AND yourselves for the inevitable, painful reality that your kid is growing up too fast, I tell you that what does matter is that you ARE letting them go!

I'm hoping for my kid to have an epic camp experience with friends, fun and kooky counselors like Tripper (you know, Bill Murrary's character from that clip early in this blog that I told you to watch so if you didn’t, it’s your fault that this blog makes no sense). I dropped off my kid and encouraged him to embrace the experience of camp and have the time of his life. I made him promise to do so and I promised not to suck out his fun while he's there with whiny phone calls and demands for letters. He needs to BE at camp: mind, body and spirit. Nothing else needs to matter!

And for you reading this, it doesn't matter that YOU are dying inside (read "me," I am dying inside and I am projecting my feelings on to you so that I feel less alone), worrying that your kid might get Lyme disease or a cavity or butt fire rash from poor (if even attempted) efforts at hygiene because you aren't there to badger him. YOU (read "me" again) are doing what's right and good by letting them go and grow.

Hang in there so you can do what you do best when it’s time for them to come home. That’s what matters.


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  • Sleep away camp? I feel like a sophomore at this motherhood thing. Yes, I do have two kids and one of them doesn't poop her pants anymore but . . . when the hell do they start sleep away camp? Six? Eight? Twelve? I should know this??

    Momming is an ever changing matrix.

  • girl, i have NO idea what is going to be right for your girls. but i do know that you will know. that i can promise you. you will know they are ready, but you will NEVER be ready.

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    In reply to Nicole Knepper:

    i have 7 kids and my oldest (almost 14) will do a week long sleepaway for the first time this summer and i am still not ready! ridiculous, yes, but definitely time!

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    As I was once a boy (hey now, don't need all them sniggers about men a growing up ;) well maybe a few are warranted), I first went to camp in the second grade. And I can honestly say that no, I did not shower but once (as a cure to hypothermia.. long story) nor change my clothes the entire week I was there and I came back to petrified mother LOL I got a good talking to and straightened out my ways the next year. So yes it does happen but eventually we do grow out of it, well some of us.

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    Blog is fantastic as usual! as soon as you said Meatballs... this song popped into my head. ha ha ha . Hope Zach has a great time, and that you enjoy yourself a little too!

  • Never sent my girls to camp, wish I'd had. I couldn't cut the cord enough to do it.

    I am curious though, whatever happened to Chris Makepeace - star of Meatballs and other cinematic masterpieces like "My Bodyguard"?

    Great blog.

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    I loved "The Bodyguard"! My 12 year old son went to sleep away camp for a few days for a school field trip and I told him he'd better answer my texts. HA! What was I thinking? I didn't text him. I knew he'd be too busy and having too much fun - as he should be. It was weird not having him here at home though.

  • My 12 yr old is at camp right now, and I swear he's the ONLY one there without a cellphone! Every other parent has gotten the obligatory text before bed, and I'm scouring facebook all day long to get my updates from the chaperoning parents/counselors. BUT, the reports I'm getting are good... And the care package that he'll be getting in a few days will rock his world, since it's covered with almost $7 worth of awesomely cool Pixar stamps. (And the term 'cool' is relative, since this IS theater camp, where quirky & eccentric is actually celebrated!!!)

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