FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Day One: Camp Escapades

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 07•13

Dance instrument

This is the mantra I repeated to D several times in the car on the way to his first day of summer camp: “You are going to have fun, fun, and then more fun.” And then I asked him, “What are you going to do?”

“I am going to have fun, fun, and more fun,” he said.

My mantra was part explanation, part “psyching” him up for camp, and giving him some details would have been more helpful, to let him know what type of activities he’d be doing at a summer camp.

The Wife and I were concerned if D would be able to handle a full-day summer camp, and I could probably substitute the word “anxious” for concerned, and this would be more accurate.

dom lunch

We were concerned if he would be able to listen and follow directions. Basically, if he can do what the schedule demanded and handle being on his own for six hours at camp.

When we arrived at Camp Escapades, I gave his arm a less than gentle tug to get him into the Orange Octopus room, the name for his age group. It didn’t occur to me he might just need extra time to filter everything he was taking in, just like does at his My Gym class.

Camp Escapades was the week after his My Gym All-Star Sports class.

Yes, his first day of summer camp contained anxiety for all family members. Parents included. His shirt, pants, shoes, socks and underpants (not in that order) were a chore to get him to put on.

That is an understatement.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was probably feeling anxious about the day ahead–the unknowns–since it was his first time going to a summer camp. The first time going to a new camp environment and these likely factored into his difficulty getting dressed.

bean bagI stayed to observe D’s first day. I wanted to know how he was doing? What was he was doing? Was he comfortable? Was he having any fun? I asked for and received a discount for blogging about Camp Escapades; however, this was really an “excuse” to see how D was doing at camp.

The Wife texted me to say that I was experiencing “separation anxiety.” This sounds more like a mother thing, but I have to admit this may be one of the few times the Wife is correct.

She reminded me that D and I spend a lot of time hanging out in the summer. “It’s natural you would miss spending time with D,” she said. “You guys spend every day together.”

So, okay, the Wife was right, and as I watched D jump up and down in a Moon Bouncer, I knew summer camp would be an important rite of passage for him to learn to be on his own. This meant I could not be a Pop Up Dad.

I chose to observe from a distance, and when I checked up on him at lunch, D was content sitting on the grass next to his buddy and looked like he’d been doing camp for several years

His buddy told me that in his dance class a girl ran up to him and gave him a hug. This is exactly the type of messy interactions L and I hope our son has plenty of at Camp Escapades.

D loves watching Bert and Ernie, Elmo, Cookie Monster and the Sesame Street gang on PBS, and our hope is tha he loses some of his preference for tv characters in favor of real life relationships with kids his age.

The next thing I knew, after being vetted by the director of the school Camp Escapades was renting space from (a good sign of tight security), D’s teacher was leading his group in an end of the day sing-a-long:

“Down by bay, where the watermelons grow,

back to my home, where

I dare not go,

my mother will say, “Did you ever

see a goose kissing a moose?”

D was in a bean bag chair. He was smiling. He wasn’t singing (this came on the second day), but he was content. He was part of his group and had successfully navigated his first day of summer camp.

His buddy told me he quietly took everything in during the morning, but he began talking with him in the afternoon. I took this as a sign he was feeling comfortable on his own at camp.

All in all, it was a great first day of summer camp.



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