I was fortunate enough that when I was 10 years old, my parents sent me to overnight camp for a week. I don’t remember ever asking to go, but I may have. In any case, my parents believed I would love it, as my father had as a child.
But, I did not love it.
In fact, I loathed it.
Aside from the terrible homesickness I felt, I quickly developed an ear infection which I kept secret, certain I could hold out until the day my parents came to get me. My first time on a horse, it got stung by a bee, and went tearing through the trees, a branch hitting me in the face and knocking me off.
Needless to say, I was miserable, and when my parents came to pick me up, I collapsed into their arms, a tearful, scabby, ear-achy mess. I never went back.
When I had my first daughter, I didn’t think of sending her to camp, until she was older and begged to go. I think she was 12 or 13. She loved it so much, she came home with so many stories, songs, new friends, new skills. After that, she went every year.
I sent my second daughter to camp a bit sooner, at age 10, and again, only because she asked. She’s a little more tentative, like me, so I thought she’d get homesick, but she didn’t. She’s been three years in a row and loves it.
I hear parents discussing overnight camp and whether they should send their children, and based on my own experiences, I would say go for it, as long as the child wants it. Each time I sent my daughters to camp, they came back happier, more independent, and buzzing with excitement as they shared about all the new experiences they had.
That said, if either one of them chose not to attend, that would be okay too! It’s not for everyone. I’m living proof. If you’ve got a child prone to homesickness, consider shorter stays at camp, or a camp that you can attend with your child on an orientation weekend. Even day camps are fun! You can pitch a tent in the backyard.
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