My children have been at sleepaway camp for the past three weeks, my daughter as a camper, my son as a counselor. This is the same camp my son has attended for the past six years, and worked at as a counselor assistant last summer. But it is my daughter's first time there, and she is having to overcome the stamp of being somebody's little sister. Or maybe it's an advantage, I don't know. They seem to love my son at that camp. Most of the counselors and the kids all know him from his years there, and he seems to have conducted himself well enough.
When we drove our girl up to camp, he came along for the ride to see to his old friends. Once there, the camp deputy director and counselors actually cajoled/teased/pleaded with him to come back and work this year. They were understaffed for the first session, and since my son hadn't yet found a summer job in the city, he said yes. (So much for his plans to party in the city his last summer before college.)
They day we drove up, all the girls came running out to meet my daughter (she was late to camp because of her Nana's funeral), or more likely (we suspected) to greet her brother. I had told my son that he needed to be nice to his sister, because all the little 14 and 15 years old girls would queue off how he treated her. I think he got what I was saying. He's seen enough girl wars to understand.
The campers sleep in platform tents in the woods, beside a beautiful lake in which they swim, canoe, kayak, raft, and dive from big blue and yellow water trampolines. They also jump off rock cliffs into the water (that's the lake pictured above). The teen campers, who are together on one side of the lake, cook their own meals over open firepits in the woods. This week, my daughter and several other campers and counselors are on a 6-day bike ride through five northeastern states, cycling all day and sleeping in churches at night. My son did this same trip at my daughter's age, and now, as then, I wake up every morning with a prayer in my throat, asking God to keep those children safe. I am thrilled that my children's teen years can include such an expedition, but my heart seizes all the same. The trick is to keep my fears to myself and let them out into the world to enjoy their lives.
My daughter comes home from camp in two-and-a-half more weeks, after spending six weeks there. My son will be also there until the end of the first session. Since they made him a counselor instead of a counselor assistant, he is getting paid rather well, which will come in handy in the fall. He will come back home for one single week before we have to drive him upstate to college. He is so out in the world now. I hope he is well and truly raised, because our shift is just about over. It's on him to make his life work now. From here on, we're mainly consultants, ready and willing if he turns to us, but no longer directing the show.
God, it was fast.