We send our three children across the country to sleepaway camp - because we found a camp that fits all three kids and has everything one could dream of except waterskiing. They relax, disconnect, make new friends, try new things and make lots of independent choices. It's a terrific growth experience that they adore. They beg to go for longer and longer.
And we never saw the camp (NJY Camps) before sending the two boys three summers ago. We trusted that it was 90 years old, well regarded and had the sorts of things our kids like to do. We got very lucky. And this year, because they successfully convinced us to send them for long enough, they are there for visiting day. And so my husband and I crossed the country and drove from New York City to the beautiful Delaware River Gap to savor five-six hours with our kids. I learned some excellent lessons during this really great day (seriously - it was amazing and I want to go to camp).
- Visiting day starts at 10am. Except that we park next to the bunks for overflow and once the cars arrived…visiting day starts. At 9:15 we hit overflow. Not going to miss a minute.
- “No pets” doesn’t apply to people’s dogs. Dogs are family. Too hot to leave them in the car (clearly). Just disregard the camp’s request. Hope they brought pick-up bags.
- BBQ included. Except my kids really, really want cheeseburgers (kosher camp) so can we please, please leave and go to lunch. Us and 1000 other visiting parents. Traffic. OK.
- When dedicating five hours to the effort, bunks can be presented as clean and not smelly. Amazing.
- Apparently, there is a nefarious stamp thief on the loose in all the bunks.
- Socks really do disappear in the camp laundry.
- Even Moms can climb the lake iceberg and slide off the top. It’s not graceful, but it is possible.
- Jumping into water wearing a Mae West lifejacket (required) hurts when it bangs into the back of your head.
- The trust jump from a 4in x 4in ledge 50 feet up to hit a red ball in space is terrifying to parents and no big deal to all three kids. And yes, I climbed up and did it because one of the three asked me to do it.
- As I battled the stop and go traffic on country roads that only have traffic this 1 day per year, I longed wistfully for summers at camp and for a longer day with my three with a few more hugs.
The camp did a great job of ensuring the kids weren't sad when we left. As I walked out of the camp to meet my husband after dropping my daughter at her bunk, I saw hundreds of kids on the lawn having a massive watergun fight. Lots of laughter and already distant, but happy memories of Mom and Dad.