There she goes…

So my big girl is off to overnight camp tomorrow, & I have to admit, we’re all feeling a little trepidation about it.

campingbyTongDangNot that we don’t love camping.  We’re all about camping here in our house.  Summer’s not summer until we’ve busted out the tents, thrown on the backpacks & burnt dinner over a fire.  But this is different.  This isn’t camping.  This is Camp.

Like overnight camp.

Like away from the family camp.

Like sleeping in a cabin with fourteen other girls, & a couple of adults who don’t know that you like to sleep with the bathroom light on.  Or that you often end up in your sister’s bed.  Or that you have a deadly & unreasonable fear of spiders.

spiderbyDanThis is Girl Scout Camp, & unlike 5th grade camp, I won’t be in the next cabin over.  I’ll be in San Antonio, hanging out with my writer friends.  Her sister will be doing day camp & coming home every night to hang out with Dad, but my big girl will be having a big new experience.  And as I mentioned, we’re all facing it with a little worry.

Fireplacebyichaya Kiatying-AngsuleeNot that I’m letting it show.  No, on the surface I’m all, “You’re going to have a great time!  You’ll be so busy you’ll hardly even think about us!”  But inside?  I’m worried for her.  She’s a sensitive, loving kid, & she’s very family oriented.  This is going to be a tough experience for her.  It’ll be good for her, I know.  Good for all of us to let her prove to herself that she can do it.

But it’s killing me to think she’ll be sad or lonely or afraid, and far from her mommy.

Do you remember the first shaky steps you took away from your family & into the world?  How did it go?  Any advice for her? For me?  Share!

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  • Amy Conley says:

    4 h camp and it was wonderful. Of course I was the oldest of five so I was happy to be away from everyone. This is something I could do on my own.

    • Susan Sey says:

      That’s reassuring, Amy! I have a feeling that this will be a wonderful experience for her, too. She’s definitely an oldest child, & her sister causes her untold amounts of frustration. It’ll be fun for her to be amongst her peers for a full week. We just have to get past the bedtime hurdle….

      • Amy Conley says:

        Susan, she will be so exhausted every night, she wil fall asleep mid-sentence with her roommates.

  • Deb says:

    Oh, boy. No help here, sorry. I loved my Gram, but hated to stay overnight at her place, even with my big sister in the same bed. I never did the overnight camp-thingy.
    My daughter did a one-night camp experience 3 times and loved it. It was a small group of girls, they slept in a real tipi, and the leader, a friend of mine, who is a naturalist took them on prairie walks, let them kayak, swim, cook over the fire, and tell fun stories. Last year, she wanted to stay at a week-long camp, but we couldn’t afford it, even with a scholarship from church. Wowza, expensive at $350.
    I was proud of her for even going to the over-night camps because she slept with a lamp on and wanted the t.v. on in the living room, and even slept with me from age 5 to 8 a lot when my husband drove over-the-road. I know I shouldn’t have let her, but I needed my sleep, too.
    Now, she never stays home and is always at a friend’s house!
    I hope your daughter has a good experience, Susan. Maybe she will be so tired from the day activities, she will konk out at night.

    • Susan Sey says:

      I think she’s really ready for this experience, Deb, but you’re totally right. The price is outrageous! I went to church camp when I was a kid & it was very reasonable, even without scholarships. It’s amazing what kid stuff costs these days.

      Also, your daughter’s experience in the teepee with the naturalist sounds amazing! I’d like to do that myself!

      • Deb says:

        I should clarify that the cost of camp with the scholarship was $350….
        Besides, she is attending volleyball “camps” this summer, and those are worth the price to learn better skills, I guess.
        My friend Maria owns Walking Stick Adventures here in Iowa. Great experiences for kids!

  • Shannon says:

    Camp was one of those good and bad things. I didn’t know it then (bud do now) that I am an introvert. I get overwhelmed when there’s too many people, too much talking, and too many activities.

    Camp was fun during the days, where we swam, make craft projects, took nature walks, and dashed to be the first in line for lunch or dinner because they ran out of the good desserts if the boys got in first. By nighttime, there was a campfire–singing, ghost stores, riddles, or joke telling. The first fifteen minutes were fun and then I was done. All I wanted to do was retreat to the cabin. Instead, it would be girls giggling, talking about other girls, or assessing the boys until all hours. The counselor would get them quiet and then sneak out to be with her boyfriend counselor. And the conversations would resume. So I am left with good memories but also the feeling I didn’t quite fit in. I’ll never forget being the first or second to pass the test to swim in the deep end of the lake and swim out to the dock in the middle of the bay.

    Home on the farm with only 2 brothers who went off on their own, horses, cow, and chickens who didn’t talk were good. After a few days I felt myself again.

    • Susan Sey says:

      This is exactly the position my little introvert is in! She’s fine during the day but at night she needs some alone time to recharge & instead it’s just an extension of the highly social day! Hopefully she’ll find a way to check out & get her “me” time….

  • catslady says:

    I never went anywhere or did anything until I married at 18 (over protective parents you bet) so I’m not a good example. I know I let my girls go to girl scout camp. The following years I was able to go as a parent and then an assistant leader but I made sure my girls were more independent than me and now they will go anywhere and do anything but nothing really dangerous lol. Did I mention I greyed early lol.

  • Cassondra says:

    Hi Susan,

    I’m not much help since I never went to camp as a kid. I bet this will be a good experience for her, though, especially since she’s camped with y’all as a family.

    I taught rappelling to girl scouts at camps like this, and the girls all seemed to have a great time when they were there. Although I wasn’t much of a judge, probably, since while I had them, I could scare them into a cooperative place with the knowledge that if they didn’t follow orders, they could fall and die (not true, for the most part). *grin* Yeah, I’m not the nurturing sort.

    She won’t be the only first-timer, I’m betting, and if the troop is any good, the leader will be supportive and help her through it. And you’ll have a great time at the conference!

    • Susan Sey says:

      This is what I’m telling her (and myself!) Cassondra! If you’re afraid (I say), think about the other little girls who might be there who haven’t been camping at all before. Or never been overnight away from home before. You focus on helping THEM, & you’ll find (I say) that you’re helping yourself along the way!

      God, I hope it works out that way. 🙂

  • Helen says:


    It is har the first time I myself never went to camp but often stayed at my grnadparents of one of my Aunties places but I do know how you fell my youngest daughter at the age of 14 who had only ever stayed overnight at my Mums went on a school excuresion to Europe she had never been on a plane before and although I knew she would have a great time i was so worried and when she got to Paris her first stop and she rang me she was crying but she went out with the teachers and the rest of the kids and rang back later to say all was good and she is 27 now and often talks about this trip and what fun she had. I am sure your daughter will have and awesome time 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Susan Sey says:

      Oh, a few tears right after you arrive in Paris has GOT to be par for the course! That’s an amazing city but sheesh is it overwhelming! It’s PARIS, for heaven’s sake!

      But it’s reassuring to hear that she pulled it together & went on to have a wonderful time! I’m praying my little one does the same!

  • Susan, I think she’ll be fine. My first overnight camp experience was two weeks, and that was too long for me. It was also not something I chose to do but something my mom and my friend’s mom thought would be good for us to do together.

    I was no more Nature Girl then than I am now. Our family did not camp. I’ve long suspected my mom decided it would be good for me to be outdoors and not have my “nose stuck in a book” (or a comic book) for much of the day. I enjoyed the daily activities, but I hated the food and being away from home for so long.

    My friend, in contrast, was definitely an outdoors person. She still is. Her family went camping every year, as yours does. And she totally loved camp. Your eldest sounds a lot like my friend, so I’m sure she’ll have a fabulous time.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Nancy, I think you nailed it on the food. In addition to being a little introvert, she’s also a highly fussy eater. She’s getting better, but she’s so much more flexible about, well, EVERYTHING, when she’s well fed. As are many of us, I suppose. So it’s going to be asking a lot of her to roll with it all day & all night, & also at mealtime.

      I hope her counselors survive this week!

  • Susan, I hope it goes really well! She might just love it – sometimes people can surprise us. I was thinking the other day that I was a reasonably fearless little kid. It didn’t last – these days, I’m a bunch of paranoias and neuroses!

    • Susan Sey says:

      Got to say, I’ve never experienced you as a bundle of neuroses but I don’t dispute your right to *feel* bonkers. I am totally bonkers in my own right but I feel like I blend pretty well most days. 🙂

      Hopefully you’re right & she’ll have the time of her life. If I didn’t think it was totally possible, I’d be reevaluating our options for this week. But I think she’s going to have a riot once she’s past the nerves.

  • flchen1 says:

    Susan, hope your little one has a great week! I was similarly conflicted before our eldest’s week at Outdoor Ed–it’s a week away with their 5th grade class to learn about the great outdoors and all that 😉 DS1’s definitely more of an introvert and less inclined to volunteer to do new things, etc., so some of our chatting beforehand was encouraging him to give everything the old college go 😉 He ended up having a GREAT time and didn’t want to come home 😀 Hope your daughter has a similarly fabulous time!