I squeezed my young daughter tightly to my chest . . . held her face in my hands and wondered at how it mirrors my own . . . looked into her blue eyes dancing with excitement. "Bye mom! That was my last walk with the dog before I go to camp! You will have to walk him while I'm gone!" She bounced down the gravelly slope of our driveway and climbed into my husband's red pickup. Sleeping bag. Swimsuit. Pillow, stuffed with innumerable items that she "needs" on her bed. Carefully chosen outfits. Everything except . . . me. She doesn't need me for this.
Parents: perhaps you have experienced these moments and emotions, or else maybe this will be your first summer of "letting go" as your child attends a week of camp for the first time.
Whatever your situation, I have some tried-and-true tips to help you prepare to send them off.
1. Use string to tie each outfit together in your child's suitcase.
This makes it easy for your child to find new, clean clothes every day! I also provide a large garbage bag for dirty clothes, so they don't have to mix dirty with the clean. Trust me, everything at camp just gets progressively wetter and wetter as the week goes on. And . . . trust me, even if you do this, some kids will still come back home with most of the outfits untouched. #camplife
2. Be the parent that sends a fan.
You will be a hero if the week is hot and sticky. The cool breeze from a fan can help everyone sleep better at night.
3. Provide a Bible that is readable for your child.
Campers will spend time actually reading their own Bible, and it is much more enjoyable if they can understand at least some of it on their own! For very young children I recommend the NIrV which is written at a 3rd grade reading level. Talk to your pastor about recommending a Bible translation if your child needs one for camp.
4. Pray for your child.
Ask Christ to make himself known in a real and personal way. Pray that your child's heart is open to knowing Him.
5. Make some plans for yourself.
You will worry less, and the week will go by faster, if you have a few activities for yourself. I have gutted and cleaned entire rooms of the house, gone out with friends, traveled, gardened, baked cookies . . . and yes, stared at her picture wondering what she was doing right then.
Safely belted into my husband's truck, my sweet daughter waved all the way down the driveway until they passed behind the trees and out of sight. I kept waving. Smiling. Empty and full. I know the Lord Jesus will reach out to her this week, and I will be at home praying that her heart is eagerly listening!