camp indecision

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Camp Driftwood

I loaded up their bags for the week (3 bathing suits each, sunblock, a towel for rest time, pool shoes, a spare change of clothes, and a sweatshirt) along with a “Getting to Know Your Child” questionnaire. What do they need to know?

Lucas is all hands in. He’s very social and friendly, gets along with absolutely everyone, is happy to lead or follow. He doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body, though he does have a shunt in his brain, so no contact sports like football or sex. If he complains of a headache, which has never happened, please let us know as it’s a sign of shunt malfunction. If he picks his nose and eats it, and he will, try to encourage him to eat other options from nature’s bounty, like an apple. If you catch him sucking his thumb, simply say, “Lucas, hands in your lap.” And if he speaks so fast you can’t understand a word he’s mumbling, please say, “Lucas, enunciate.” He doesn’t like ice in his water. In our house the rule is, “You don’t have to like it, but you do have to try it.” No separate meals. He eats what’s being served. No allergies. As far as swim is concerned, he’ll say he’s scared. Push him in. He’ll be fine. He can float on his back and swim the width of the pool using “big boy arms.” Don’t worry about traumatizing him. We’ve already been there, mastered that. His favorite interests are trains, dinosaurs, and of all random things geography.

Mouth full of Watermelon

Abigail takes a bit to warm up, as she’s shy and quiet at the start. We’d like to see her take more leadership positions, mostly to coax her out of her insecurity, put her in a skit where she has to say a line by herself. Please encourage her to say things “Loud and Proud,” as she is often sheepish speaking up. She loves anything athletic, especially running and swimming (these kids do not need to hold their nose or practice blowing bubbles, and she can swim the full length of the pool with “big girl arms”). She could draw for hours and if asked to tell a story, she will speak for twenty minutes with the most elaborate fairy tale you’ve ever heard, right down to what the chocolate-breathing dragon ate before taking his medicine. She has no allergies and might just be the slowest eater you’ve encountered, though she is thorough and will eat anything, aside from jelly. She wants no part of marmalade, though who can blame her? Her best friend is watermelon. Please give her a head start eating when possible.

Today is the first day of camp for Lucas and Abigail.
Mind you the official first day of camp was yesterday, which I COMPLETELY MISSED. This is like that dream where you show up to school naked, only you never show up! You’ve slept too late and yes, you really did miss the SAT’s! In all my camp indecision, setting up tours and watching highly produced videos with closeups of flowers, it escaped my attention that one of the camps began yesterday (it’s the last 4 week session). I was deciding between several camp options (Pierce Country Day Camp, North Shore Day Camp, Driftwood Camp, Crestwood, Shibley, Friends Academy, Camp Jacobson at Robinhood) given that Phil’s comment on the subject was, “Whatever you choose is fine with me. Just choose.” If only he’d hand over those sweet sweet reins more often. Because clearly I need practice in the decision making category.

How do you go about choosing a camp for your child?
Obvious answers: word of mouth/ reputation, see for yourself on a tour, ask around on facebook, weigh factors such as price, what’s included (transportation, lunch, swim lessons), activities offered (trapeze, computers, gymnastics, water park/ sprayground/ splashpad, water slides), camper to counselor ratio, how long will they be sitting on a bus? All of these were important, sure. But I also wanted to see, where are these kids eating on a hot day? Air conditioned facilities or under a tree? Is one better than the other? Does it even matter? And what happens on rainy days? Does the whole camp gather into one field house/gymnasium to watch a movie? Or are kids spontaneously driven to a children’s museum or bowling alley? And about those activities, there might be fantastic offerings for older kids, but what will my five-year-old bean sprouts be doing? If the zip line and climbing walls and water slides aren’t offered at their age, then I want to know that upfront, so I’m not lured in by a terrific facility that won’t really be explored for another year or two. Then, I think of the Bill Murry fine feature film: MEATBALLS. No one needs a fancy camp to have a good time. It just doesn’t matter. Camp is about suffering and roughing it, which always yields the best memories of your life.

Pierce Coach Line

However, at the end of the day, I chose a fancy camp close to home where I knew 100% there were children who’d be in Lucas and Abigail’s kindergarten classes. I wanted them to see familiar faces. Even if they didn’t like the faces, at least they’d be familiar. In the future, however, I’d want them to be at a camp where their school friends were not. To me, it’s very church and state. Camp friends should be completely separate from your school friends.

We were all giddy this morning waiting for the bus (a big big bus) to pick them up. I heard it roll in. “It’s here, it’s here!”
“No way.”

There were sweet Eskimo kisses and warm hugs before they were handed off to the camp counselor, Laura. Abigail doubled back for one extra quick hug and kiss, and they were off.

“So,” Phil asked when he called home to see how the sendoff went, “did you cry?”
“What? Did I cry?!”  Don’t be absurd. Of course I didn’t cry. So what, it was their first time ever to be picked up by a bus. They’ll never have that first again. That was it. There was one photo, of the bus pulling away, taken in haste with myPhone. But there were no sentimental tears. I think I save them up for things that matter, like movie trailers.

Now, in lieu of joining Lifetime Fitness or signing up for a Soul Cycle class, I’m off to the no nonsense, no thrills gym in our little gated community where no memories of a lifetime will be made. After gaining 15 lbs., though, I am ready to get back to reaching my Lifetime status at Weight Watchers. And although I did resist Fly Wheel in Boca, I am tempted to try a Soul Cycle class, especially for a chance to wear PADDED BICYCLE SHORTS, because that’s just what my ass-crotch region needs.



  1. I may be in the minority, but I HATED camp. My parents dropped my best friend and me off at Camp Roger (ewwwww…even typing it makes me feel queasy) and they went to Hawaii. It started out badly with spider infested bunk-beds, MEAN girls, awful food, punishment for anything was having to sit in the huge out house. Camp counselors told scary stories that haunt me to this day and loved tormenting us. Everything was moldy and buggy and dirty. I got thrown from a horse. I lost my shoe. My best friend and I got in a huge fight and I was alone.

    Needless to say – it was a great experience for a 14 year old because when my parents came back I CRIED with joy. I hadn’t been nice to them in 3 months. Taught me a whole lesson in gratitude.

    1. Author

      Ha. Pretty sure there are NO BUGS AT ALL, aside from the occasional ladybug and butterflies, at this camp. Ahem. Watch this camp video (you’ll see what I mean about the production).

      1. Oh my hell. Okay – that is MY kind of camp! Well – for when I was a kid. Now my kind of camp would be at a very high-end hotel where no children are allowed. But that’s me.

  2. Awww, your little sweet beans, Stephanie! They’ll have a blast! Meanwhile, you have some fun too! I wanted to tell you (You’ll be super proud!)…I made a Blueberry Buckle last night! It’s almost gone! I thought of you when I made it, and felt like I was remotely on your baking level (Im not worthy!). Just so you know, you inspire!


  3. I remember eating popsicles at Pierce day camp! And I remember they did lots of Indian dances and songs – headresses and all. It’s like a modernized version of what they used to have. Funny. Hope they love it.

  4. A few questions and a comment:

    Are they in sleepaway camp or day camp?? They are too young for sleepaway, I assume, so all this fuss was for a day camp??

    Why didn’t you tell us that your Austin McMansion fell out of escrow? No wonder Phil is worried about money.

    Living in a gated community again? Thanks for being so predictable. You always think of others.

  5. Sooo happy to see you and your babies living the life with bugs, experiences etc — that’s just life!! Love that you are allowing yourself and your babies to just “live”

  6. Reins. Camp is a very good opportunity for building independent skills sans helicopter mamas. Abigail should do well if she can get over the initial shock of separation.

  7. My mother cried when I’d leave for camp. Sleepover. The place had no hot running water, no electicity in the bunks or tents, and outdoor latrines. I LOVED IT!! We all had “fatigue duty” which meant cleaning latrines, cleaning lanterns, cleaning the mess hall, etc. My best friend & I shared a tent with two others. Each night we’d leave peanut butter and crackers at the ends of our beds so that the raccoons would visit and partake of our treats. When they did we’d shine ouf flashlights on them. Ignorance was bliss and had our parents known they would have good reason to cry!

    My two sons went to a camp in Maine, not the stripped down el-cheapo but wonderful place of my childhood. They, too, loved camp. By then I realized my mother was right. Children need a vacation from their parents & parents need one from their kids too.

  8. so you’re here for a month and already thinking about Soul Cycle. I told you. Just make sure you get the Lululemons first. And a black headband. And blow you hair into a nice smooth ponytail.

    As for camp, I’m jealous. As i have mentioned before, we are in Scarsdale and shockingly there are very very few decent camp options. It’s either 10k for a fancy day camp (which seems excessive) or it’s a 3 week specialized program, or it’s a town camp. I can’t believe these words will leave my mouth (or rather my fingers) but Long Island is really the greatest place -for day camp.

    And fwiw, I also think camp friends and school friends should be kept separate. The worlds should not collide.

  9. Oh. My. God. You really put in this much effort for DAY camp? Good lord. Are all mothers like this? This is what America has come to. Sad.

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