This year, the bigs (Will, John Paul and Anna-Laura) enjoyed a week at summer camp in Arkansas. It’s always their favorite week of summer. I’ve blogged about choosing it, making sure all your kids do it and packing for it. I believe passionately in all three.
Next Monday, I’ll share how you can prepare for next year’s summer camp, but until then, enjoy my camper’s reflections on the greatest week of summer. And, because I’m a sucker for nostalgia, here’s the last three years of camp. Look at how they’ve grown (and how much younger Scott and I look)!
Some folks ask us, why Arkansas? We say, why not? Truthfully, the owners of the camp are dear friends from Texas A&M. That plays a huge role. It’s not a Catholic camp, but we looked far and wide at camps around the area and this one kept coming up as the winner for our family. My kids adore it and that’s the primary reason we send them. Their camp days are full of three morning instructionals (three sports of their choosing) and the afternoons and evenings are filled with friends, mish mash (where they can do any activity), tribal competitions (go Caddo!), themed evening events and devotionals with their counselors. Every year, when we pick them up, the smiles on their faces remind me that weeklong summer camp really is the bomb diggity. Parents, if you haven’t sent your child to one, I highly encourage you to consider it.
Let’s get to the funnies, shall we?
Riflery: “I hit the target, Mom. So that was really cool. And, I had fun going to the range with one of my counselors, too.” Perhaps we have a marksman in the group. He brought his targets home and I was im-pressed – so says the former riflery instructor!
Archery: In his letter home, we got a “I made a bullseye!!!” Scott is itching to go bow hunting now that he as a partner.
Tennis: “I’m not sure tennis is my game. I mean, we learned forehand, backhand and volley, but I really need to practice more.” I’m really glad he enjoyed this one, because I was worried he wouldn’t love it. Turns out I was wrong.
Mish Mash: The first day, we spied Will high above ground doing the ropes challenge course. What?! He even enjoyed the climbing wall, mini-golf with John Paul (he got 7 hole-in-ones!), basketball and, of course, the camp store.
The thing that touched my heart the most? He used some of his money to buy Luke a model Mater for his birthday. When he arrived home from camp, the two of them put it together. Be still, my heart. Will earned the F.I.T. (first is third) award again this summer. One more time and his name gets put on a plaque in the chow hall. He may not use much soap at camp, but the kid had a blast. In fact, I saw a young man emerge when he arrived home. Time to admit he really is growing up.
Riflery: We’re big believers in learning how to respect guns, so when John Paul said he had a blast learning “how to use a gun AND use the safety” we were happy campers. Camp does a great job in making it safe and fun. John Paul’s highlight? “Just hitting the target, Mom.”
Track & Field: For a kid who is non-stop movement, the “jumping over the hurdles and doing the long jump” were right up his alley. I’m not sure I would’ve loved doing that all week, but he dug it.
Smashball: I don’t know what it is about smashball John Paul loves so much, but I don’t think he ever left the ring. It’s basically dodgeball in a ring. Why is it his favorite, above all else? “Because it’s fun, we hit the ball a lot.” There ya go.
Mish Mash: Considering we saw ONE photo of John Paul the entire week is further proof that smashball was his sport of choice. He did manage to squeeze in a game of putt-putt with Will (and he schooled his counselor Deonte) and then met up with Anna-Laura. “I just didn’t feel like water stuff this year,” he told us. That’s a first. He did try out the new water slide and it got a thumbs up.
Mostly, we were glad there were no major injuries. No ER visits. And no blood. He came home with smiles, two never-used towels and washcloths (ewwww) and an open bottle of shampoo that spilled. All. Over. The. Clothes. Oh, John Paul, you keep me young.
Soccer: It’s no surprise that soccer was her sport of choice during the week. “We pretty much spent the morning passing, shooting and dribbling.” She’s already excited about the fall season of futbal.
Softball: We’ve been encouraging her for a while to try out softball and true to her competitive nature, “I loved it, Mom. Can I play this year?” Time to warm up the glove.
Volleyball: She traded in gymnastics for volleyball this summer. No doubt, this was another one she loved.
Mish Mash: Anna-Laura spent her time in the craft center. It’s a toss up whether she enjoyed making bracelets or drinking powerade at the camp store, more. She did make it outside and did some water slides, putt putt with JP (“he won, because he’s totally better than me”), the waterfront and ziplining. She did steer clear of the horses. “Those scare me.”
Anna-Laura was the first kid to deplete her camp account, once again. But, in true love and logic form, she didn’t ask for more cash. I was proud of her for that. She earned the F.I.T. award, too, and proudly wore her green bracelet all the way home. When we walked up to her cabin, Scott called out her name and she came BUSTING through that door and into his arms. I’m tearing up just thinking about it. When I asked her if she missed us, she said, “Well, at first I did, but then I started having so much fun that I didn’t anymore.” Atta girl.
We budget all year to send the bigs to camp and I never regret squirreling away that money. The kids come home tired, energized, independent and creative. They learn to solve their own problems, make friends and appreciate the comforts of home. While they were away, Scott and I enjoyed a few date nights, quiet conversations and a clean house. It was a sweet reunion when we picked them up and I suspect we’ll be summer campers. For a very, very long time to come.