By Kimberly Paris, a Maine camp alum, camp parent, and Maine Camp Experience as a Campcierge™
“Summers are for parents.”
That is what my mother used to say to me every summer before I went away to sleep away camp in Maine.
It wasn’t that I minded being sent away from the hot, sticky Miami summer to the cool, picturesque lakefront setting in Maine. But I still always wondered what my mom meant. From age 10-16 I was convinced that my parents were home celebrating, enjoying the kid-free life. I believed summer was their break from parenthood that was punctuated with an adult-only getaway on the Maine coast after they came to see me on Visiting Day.
But it wasn’t actually until 30 years later, when I sent my daughter to camp for the very first time, that I truly understood the meaning of that phrase.
I think I first saw it when I went to pick up my nine-year old daughter at the airport following her first summer at camp. She had a twinkle in her eye that said, “Check me out, I’m awesome.” Even though she looked ridiculous wearing shorts, rain boots and clutching a pillow, her stance showed the confidence of a young lady who was proud of having been independent for the first time.
Once we came home there were even more surprises. There were several moments when I nearly fell over because she offered to “set the table”, “straighten her room” and, “gasp”, even “sweep the kitchen.” Camp living had taught her how every person plays a part in creating a home that all could enjoy. Three and a half weeks of camp had finally gotten the message through that I had spent at least five years nagging her about.
But the moment that really drove it home for me was when we went to the park the following week and my normally shy daughter approached a young girl sitting by herself on the swings and asked her if she wanted to join her sister and her in a game they were playing. Prior to camp my daughter would have never noticed, let alone reach out to another girl she wasn’t familiar with. My heart warmed with pride for her compassion and bravery.
Confidence. Cooperation. Compassion. Taking a Chance. These are life skills that as parents we talk about, model and try to instill in our kids. Camp is one of the first opportunities that our kids have to take what we have taught them and live it on their own without us guiding them every step of the way. Giving our children the opportunity to become responsible for their own selves (albeit in the safe, nurturing environment that camp provides) is a huge high for our kids that goes a long way towards building independence and self-reliance – two invaluable skills that will serve them throughout their lives.
So yes, “summers ARE for parents.” It’s not only the opportunity for our kids to own the values we have instilled in them but it is also the break that we as parents need to step back and see the amazing person that our child is becoming.
Maine Camp Experience is thrilled to welcome Kimberly Paris as a Maine Camp Experience Campcierge™
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
You can share your own Maine camps memories & expressions of gratitudeon our Memories of Camp section of our website.
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
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