You see, I never had a real “camp” experience. It’s not that mom and dad didn’t offer. I just rejected the idea of leaving my house and neighborhood friends. I was quite content to play “house” on my porch with Donny Osmond as my hubby and a plastic doll that needed my love. We’d play kick-the-can until the street lights came on. Who needed camp when you had the coolest fort right down the street?
There was one time when I was all set to go to overnight camp in some woods somewhere in Rhode Island. I was all packed up with my shiny new sleeping bag and a bottle a bug spray. My mom dropped me at the bus stop and sped off, waving goodbye (she may have actually peeled out). While waiting, this little girl starting describing camp and all the “fun” things she had done there. Everything she described filled me with sheer terror. Making pancakes in the morning as a group activity. Nightmare! I didn’t know how to make pancakes. I was like seven. I never made a pancake in my life. I ended up knocking on some stranger’s door to use their phone. My poor mother had to come and pick me up. She had probably just walked back in the house, thinking she was free at last, when the phone rang and she heard my unrelenting sobbing on the other end. She came to my rescue and was sweet as could be—never letting on how frustrated she may have been at my inability to leave her side that summer.
My daughter is, for the most part, much more adventurous than I was. She doesn’t want to hang out with me all day. She’s learning so much more than I did playing on my porch. However, almost daily I get a call at lunch. Her little kid voice says, “Hi. Whatcha doin’?” I say, “Are you having fun?” She always replies “yes” with enthusiasm. Then after a few moments she lowers her voice to a whisper and says, “Please don’t make me come back here.” She tells me how all the kids are so mean, but when I pick her up at the end of each day, she rattles off the names of all her new best friends, which consists of just about everyone at the camp.