Sleepaway camp is luxury. I am well aware of that. Over the past 10 years, I have selflessly forgone cleaning help, exotic vacations, personal chefs (are you crying for me yet?) and paying for pasta at full price, so my kids could enjoy an unforgettable summer experience. And so I could fight with husband #1 with no one around to hear us, except for any neighbors who might keep their windows open. We apologize.
Camp is supposed to teach you about independence, socialization, bonding and never walking around barefoot. Ever. It is supposed to teach you to learn to eat things that you wouldn’t normally eat because your parents aren’t around to say, “I am not making another dinner.” It teaches you team spirit, lessons of the importance of bug spray and, in some camps, that you are never too young to get married. And that it is possible to work in camp, forever, even with a newborn.
You would think that with the amount of tuition you pay for this summer experience, your child would be carried around on a feather bed, with folks fanning them and feeding them grapes. You would think that the bunks would be air conditioned, with Sleep Number beds. The bathrooms would come with individual, sound proof stalls and showers with unlimited hot water and just the right amount of pressure. You would think that the weeks leading up to visiting day, the most wonderful day of the year for state troopers, that you would not receive a list as long as Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to bring with you on this much dreaded journey.
As I write this, and I only have two kids in camp, one who is a counselor, I have enough water bottles to irrigate the state of California, Little Bites to feed a third-world country, chocolate chip cookies to feed the entire boys campus and a dreaded feeling in my stomach that I forgot something and I won’t hear the end of it. I also just spoke to a friend driving to a different camp and she has reported rain in Hancock, which is a problem because the weather forecast predicted a good hair day, which is very important on visiting day, but what can you do.
Each camp has their own food policy. In years past, we were able to burden the poor guy that drives up to to see his wife every Thursday (and not because she is in jail, but because she loves working in camp) with challah for our precious babies. Fortunately for him and for us, you can only send food up on the first day of camp and on visiting day. Packages are now limited to an 8 1/2 x 11 manilla envelope that has been inspected by the TSA and sniffed by a peanut-sensitive dog. Apparently, at another camp, over 400 packages arrived in one day. The camp had to sign for each package individually and I am safely assuming that tuition will go up next summer to hire someone specifically for packages. Or they will just have to change their policy about packages.
How about this? How about every camp have the same policy? No packages, no food, no mail and no bunk notes. Eight full weeks of camp, none of this trying to trick the parents with seven weeks and two days one summer, seven weeks and one day another summer…we notice! Eight full weeks and you have full reign over everything. You don’t even have to post pictures. Especially since some of us, and I am not mentioning any names, haven’t looked at the website all summer. Bad mom, very bad mom. I am just kidding. Especially since when my kids were younger, I was one of those nuts emailing the camp about the lack of pictures of my boys on the previously mentioned website.
Yes, we spoil our children because, before you know it, they are out of the house and you are installing one of those lifts because you can’t walk up the stairs anymore. Yup, husband #1 just said it best, “In a few more years, it will just be the two of us.” Lord help us all. And like death and taxes, you can always count on traffic when driving home from the happiest day of the year.
Banji Latkin Ganchrow
Banji Ganchrow survived visiting day, but almost lost it on the six-hour drive home. Every. Single. Year.