The cries were primal, from the outside looking in, one would assume a death had occurred…
And in a way, it had. It was the last day of camp for my sixteen-year-old daughter, and pick-up was always emotional!
A group of teenagers saying their goodbyes among tears and hugs, promising to forever stay in touch!
An hour ride home with group chat alerts every few seconds and my daughter telling me stories that were reminiscent of my days at Camp Christopher.
I would even join in on some of the cabin songs that were still being sung thirty years later.
This year, the car ride home was different.
The first ten minutes were quiet and then in a rush of emotion my daughter blubbered out, “Thank you, mom, for my camp experiences these past five years!” “Thank you for sending me to Camp Chris…and letting me experience friendship and acceptance!.”
I was taken a back! “You’re welcome sweetie!”, I answered.
Now, as moms of teenagers can agree, emotional hormonal teens can be super moody! But, after a two-week faith based camping experience, my daughter usually came home a little bit more appreciative and changed.
So, I said “I bet you’re already looking forward to next year! You will be a counselor in training!”….I thought this might brighten the mood!
And that’s when it hit me! The cries from the back seat were mourning a loss!
This was her last year as a camper!!!!
She would be moving on to a new role at Camp Christopher. “I will never be a camper again!”, “ I am growing up….it’s not the same…” she sobbed.
And she was right! Her role was changing…and she recognized that. What a revelation!
As a parent, I sent my kids to camp hoping they would experience new friends, adventure, independence, and an appreciation for the great outdoors. ( Plus, a week of no kids was just a little-added bonus!) but, I never knew the impact could be this great!
Camp was truly a life changing experience, one of self -revelation, and growth.
Five years ago, I dropped my young daughter off at Camp Christopher, hoping she would have the same great memories of camp that I still cherish.
Five years later, I picked up a young lady filled with not only great memories but with a spiritual and emotional growth that makes me have a new outlook on the effect that camp can have on kids.
As a camper at Camp Christopher, last year campers are required to give a speech.
My daughter started hers out with the following words…” five years ago, I entered Camp Christopher as a camper, today I leave Camp Christopher as a family member, forever apart of a family that I call Camp Christopher!”