First Person: Bug Juice & Bunk Beds

When my kids were 5 and 3, we tried out the YMCA Camp Campbell Family Camp. While not a hit with my husband, the kids had a blast and I enjoyed the change of pace.

Then I learned that the camp offered a mother-son and mother-daughter time twice a year.

I admit it: Getting myself psyched to eat camp food, walk through a dirt path carrying a flashlight to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, and sleep in a bunk bed that has more chewed gum under it than you could imagine is not always easy.

Still, the idea of a full weekend dedicated to one-on-one time with one of my kids – making s’mores, riding the cable slide, ringing the bell at the top of the climbing wall and bunking with three other mother-child pairs – was appealing.

I remember the look on my daughter’s face when she finally gathered the courage to jump off the edge of the hill and ride the cable slide, which is currently her favorite camp activity.

I think about how my son spent 45 minutes struggling to the top of the climbing wall when he was 6. Last November at camp, at age 9, he scurried to the top in three minutes flat and then encouraged others who were struggling.

The Annual Ritual
Every year, I watch my kids make friends, try new things, explore nature, push themselves and experience pure fun. There is no concern about ruining clothes, getting too dirty or finishing homework.  

And I’m right there with them, cruising along the cable slide, overcoming my claustrophobic tendencies to ride the Mole Hole tube slide along the side of the hill and sweating through the mother-son soccer game.
Hearing my kids encouraging me feels so incredible.

I learn new things about my kids over that weekend and see them mature right before my eyes. Things that made them nervous the previous year are things they now tackle head-on without fear. Their silliness and ability to proceed with reckless abandon shines through.

The pressures of having to do and say the right things are gone.  All the kids are in the same situation as they put on crazy skits and sing ridiculous camp songs.  It’s okay to play, as opposed to “hanging out.” It’s safe to be seen having fun with your mom and enjoying each other’s company.  

Some of the best talks I have had with my kids occur on the drive home. We always stop for frozen yogurt midway. I think I do this to extend our time together just a little bit longer.

Without a doubt, I miss my husband and the child who’s not with me. But catching up about our respective weekends over takeout pizza Sunday night is always fun and we all get to look forward to the next mother-child weekend.

I’m getting ready to leave in a few days for mother-daughter camp.  My daughter is 7, so I am pretty sure it will be several years before she tires of this.  

I do wonder how much longer my son will be game. He’ll be in junior high sooner than I want to admit. I’m told that’s when everything changes.  But that’s all part of being a mom. We roll with the changes and help our kids navigate through the challenging process of growing up.

Whatever changes come about, I know we will always have these wonderful memories and experiences from “Mom and Me” camp.

Kim Lawson lives with her husband and children in Milpitas.

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