July 29, 2021
As I have been writing, this summer is not just one of fun and friends, but also one of helping and healing for all of us – campers, staff and parents.
To my delight, I exchanged a couple of emails with a mother of a three-week first-time camper. She does a better job of expressing this idea than anything I have written. I asked for her permission to share it (with names removed) and she generously agreed. Here it is.
[EMAIL 1] Steve Sir,
I’m not sure if you recall, but I’m the mom who yelled out the car window on July 24th thanking you for your blog and choking out a few other things.
January of this year I found myself wondering if the pandemic would ever end and in month 6 of virtually schooling my only child through his 5th grade year. He’s not an online learner and- despite my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education-I was not meant to be his teacher. We both had cried many tears, and I was deeply afraid we were traumatizing each other. I just wanted to be mom and it couldn’t be. I remembered you ran your camp in 2020 with 0 Covid cases. I read through all your blogs and info and had a gut feeling my child and our family needed your camp. If nothing returned to normal then I could give him 3 weeks participating in everything he felt he’d missed out on so we enrolled him for his first Summer.
We visited over spring break and my son returned to school in person right after. It was not the return he anticipated. He felt like the new and weird kid even though he’d been at his school since first grade. He was getting bullied and made fun of and my heart broke in a million pieces. He’s a kid I watched take the decisions made for him for many months with as much courage and acceptance as an almost 11-year-old could muster. I also saw his light start to fade, his smile a little less brilliant, self-doubt creep in, and confidence damper. I couldn’t fix it. I couldn’t make it better. His temper was short and so was mine. I was completely tapped out emotionally and mentally and mourning the fading of my child’s spirit. We were all in an unhealthy pattern before camp. My husband had been working from home since March 2020, and my son had been home.
July 4th we dropped [my son] off for Triple B. I read your blogs and I felt myself heal a bit. I wanted him to find himself again and his spirit to lighten. I could tell by the pictures this was happening. My husband and I were able to have a break, go on vacation, and reconnect. This seemed like a gift.
We have now been home 5 days, and I feel like we have been reset as a family. You returned my son to me better than I left him. He lost his Covid weight and is in great shape. He’s much more calm and centered, and his heart is so much happier. The break has allowed me to return to the mother I wanted to be and have the emotional and mental reserves to be present and engage with this amazing gift of a person I was blessed to give birth to. I know things will get bumpy because that’s the ebb and flow of life. Mostly, I am experiencing extreme gratitude for allowing my son to find himself again. He told me he even forgot about Covid and that is wasn’t a thing. To me, that was worth the price of admission. I could write so much more, but I know you have a camp to run and your children to spend time with.
Thank you for your passion. Our child and our family are better because of Camp Champions.
Sincerely, Mom of Letterman, Cabin B11
[EMAIL 2] You are welcome to use this letter. I look forward to reading it!
I’m currently enjoying coffee as I look around at scattered camp gear, half cleaned kitchen, piles of clean laundry, and a kitchen table full of Magic the Gathering cards. [My son] learned to play at camp. He came home with 55 cards he bartered, traded, and canoed people around the lake for.
I take this reset seriously as we were all spending unhealthy amounts of time on screens and disconnected. After I watched a couple of hours of YouTube videos to give me a basic understanding, we have played Magic together. I’ve found places we can go to play with other people. I am thankful to have the opportunity to explore a new interest together, and a meaningful way to bond and spend time together. The mess can wait! [END EMAILS]
I hope that each of us find ways to connect again with our loved ones, friends and communities as we begin the process of living in a world that is less disrupted and challenging. They will help us heal and become strong again. Meanwhile, I wish our guest blogger luck with Magic – it confounds me!