Although it seems like yesterday, eight years ago I dropped my baby girl off at camp when she was only four years old. With a ton of excitement and lots of anxiety I left her at the park with counselors I didn’t know and children I didn’t know. Like most everything else with motherhood I hoped I was making the right decision. Did she even need to go to camp? She was only four for goodness sakes! She and I had always spent our summer together. Would they take care of her and watch her like she was their own?
Turns out summer camp was a great experience for Caroline. The camp she has attended for 8 years is the Town of Oyster Bay Summer Recreation Program and it is by far the best deal of any other camp I have seen. All three of my children attended the camp for six weeks this year for $275. Now that is a great deal!
It’s not all roses and there are some drawbacks to camp, which my family has affectionately nicknamed “dirt camp,” due to the fact the entire camp is run outdoors and there is no indoor facility. Since it is run exclusively outdoors if it rains camp is cancelled. Which believe it or not only happened a handful of times over the years. It always managed to rain only part of the day, which allowed the kids to attend one session or the other.
The camp also runs two sessions 9:15-11:45 and 12:45-2:45. Children must be picked up for lunch from 11:45-12:45. Therefore not a great option for working moms but great for stay-at-homes and teachers.
However the pros completely out weigh the cons. The directors, who have changed over the years, have always worked hard to provide the campers with great activities, themed days, and fun field trips in order to make camp an exciting place to be. Honestly the number one reason my daughter has loved dirt camp all these years are the great counselors. They get to know every camper and work hard to make it fun for them everyday.
Everyday that first summer when I picked Caroline up at 11:45 I would walk quickly and with purpose scanning the crowds of children looking for Caroline. I was always worried that she wouldn’t be there when I picked up. Of course she always was and my nervousness was for naught. I never even took advantage of the afternoon session because I thought she was too little to go to camp all day!!
My have times have changed. This year all three of my girls attended both sessions everyday! Even the five year old. I now know the counselors and everyone who works there. And I no longer ever worry that my children won’t be there when I pick them up!
Caroline is now 12 and sadly yesterday was her last day at dirt camp. She is now too old to go next year. She aged out! Motherhood is such a roller coaster you can’t wait for your child to reach each new milestone like their first word, walking, potty training, or starting school. You are so excited with each new milestone but quite frankly the milestones just come too fast for me and I would like them to stop!
When I picked her up yesterday from camp I wasn’t filled with excitement and anxiety like that first day but rather that melancholy feeling I always get when I realize my kids are growing up. And truthfully I don’t feel any more prepared for motherhood as she getting ready to move through these tween/ teen years then I did that first day when I left her in the park when she was four. I guess will have to keep trusting my instincts and hoping for the best!
We asked around and couldn’t find any staffers who were working there when Caroline started camp eight years ago. We did figure out that several staffers were campers back then. A little ray of sunshine… maybe it’s not goodbye she can return in three years as a counselor?
How did my baby get too old to go to summer camp? Life moves too fast and everything happens in a blink of an eye. I really need to stop blinking.