Overnight Camp

When it comes to summer camp, I ask my children to abide by two simple rules:

1. Never put anything wet in your laundry bag.

2. When you unpack the first day, turn your duffle bags inside out.

Rule #1 is the result of the time my middle boy stuffed damp towels in with his laundry. It made sense in a third grade sort of way. They were dirty, right? Unfortunately, that leads to mildew. And many ruined shirts.

Rule #2 suggests that there might be a pair of navy blue Crocs hiding in the corner of your luggage. If you don’t turn the duffel inside out, you will spend half of camp wearing the same stinky gym shoes every day for every activity – to the beach, the shower, lunch and kickball games. Needless to say, those shoes didn’t make it back into the house when the boy returned home.

After many weeks of packing and preparing, including trips to Target, pre-addressing envelopes for the littlest one and deciding which stuffed animals should make the trip and which should stay home, the time has come. Tomorrow they will all be gone.

My seven-year-old has been asking to go to camp with his older siblings for years. At last he is old enough for a ten-day excursion, which means we will have no children at home for a week and a half. Friends assure me I will miss them terribly. I’m sure that is true, but I still can’t wait for a reprieve from lunches, laundry and bickering. I love them, and they love each other, but we all need a break right about now.

The most unique question so far came from my youngest: “What if I don’t know how to turn on the shower?”

I assured him that there would be a counselor nearby to help if necessary. I didn’t tell him that he might not shower very often. I will be glad if half the clothes we packed come home dirty. I try not to think about the fact that little boys sometimes sleep in their bathing suits and can’t understand why they shouldn’t wear those same suits three days in a row.

I want them to go, because I know they will come back. Stinky shoes, damp towels and all.



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