Kids at Camp & Letting Go

Posted on: Monday, August 10th, 2009
Posted in: SoulTrain, Blog | Leave a comment

Summer camp is likely the first real BreakAway that many kids experience—and also a full immersion for parents in setting their children free.  In this touching essay, Michael Gerson ponders all that and more, only to conclude that “It is also harder than I thought.  And I don’t know how to let go.” 
My 12-year old is gone at camp for 10 days.  Fortunately, this is Year 5.  So I not only find it easier each year, I probably enjoy it more.  After all, tweenie-kids these days:  They’ve already got SOs, 24/7 text-mania, hectic social (and school and sports) lives, and most of the answers. 
So in some ways, my role as a dad becomes more extraneous by the minute.  Yet it’s also the most important “work” in my life—while the job lasts—so I fight for family time, music practice, manners lessons, and a real relationship.  But do I miss those challenges when I get a 10-day reprieve?  Not so much.  I mean, sometimes a guy needs a break!
No doubt he does too.  Though he many not know it, campfire silliness and learning to canoe and making new friends trump texting and pool-play at the end of the day—and your life. 
A few decades later, I can definitely say that the most memorable experiences of my childhood included that three-week camp at the ranch.  The summer weeks that I stayed on at my grandparents’ farm.  The carefree independence of teen summer itself—when a bike and some friends was ALL you needed. 
I’ve been scratching itchy feet and searching for free will ever since—now blessed to take a lengthy Sabbatical now and then.  I learned how from summer vacations. 
So the best lesson of summer camp may be for a kid to learn to take a break…get away.  And yes, that includes from the parents. 
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