My Girl Guide troop at sleepaway camp. That's me in the bottom left-hand corner.
Don't laugh! Ok, go ahead.
Remember sleep-away camp? Some of my best childhood memories are from spending summers making friends, singing campfire songs, and making friendship bracelets at sleep-away camp. My Girl Guide troop (the Canadian version of Girl Scouts), was very active and one summer we had the opportunity to camp at a site owned by a Hungarian couple out in the wilderness. My mom dropped me at the bus we were taking to the campsite and I trotted off, bedroll, homemade poncho and sit-upon in hand. I had an amazing, enriching experience that I will never forget. Yes, we had to use lats and got bitten to the hilt by mosquitoes, but I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. To this day - and I'm not exaggerating - I haven't tasted a better Hungarian Goulash than the one that our campsite hosts made for us over an open fire at camp. Or maybe it just seems that way because I was having a blast.
Another summer, I accompanied my sister to a sleep-away camp for the Deaf. It was easily one of the best times of my life. We went whale-watching, dissected a nurse shark, made popcorn and berry necklaces with Native Americans, and - of course - had the requisite boy-girl end-of-summer dance. I remain in contact with many of those fellow campers and cherish the memories we made.
Fast forward to 2011. I'm a mom of 3 children and I'm just itching for them to be able to go away to camp like I did. But here's the thing - it's a different time now than when my sister and I went away to camp. The world is almost indisputably a scarier place. I don't know if I would feel comfortable sending my kids off for an extended period of time nowadays. And another thing - my husband never went to an overnight camp. In fact, he was barely allowed to go to sleepovers with kids that weren't family. So naturally he is 100% against the idea of a sleep-away camp for our brood.
I'm saddened at the thought that my kiddos won't be able to experience camp the way I did. Sure, they can do to day camps, and maybe a heavily chaperoned 1-night overnight camp here and there. But will they be able to run into a cabin and compete with friends to choose a bunk that will be theirs for the next 3 weeks? Will they be able to lie under the stars in a sleeping bag wearing matching friendship bracelets with a newfound friend? Will they write me postcards telling me how much kayaking sucks? Or will their knowledge of the freedom and free-spiritedness of sleep-away camp have to rest with me?
Justice Fergie is a wife, lawyer and supermom to 3 beautiful children. She's also a foodie, social media junkie and co-founder of Be Blogalicious. Visit her at JusticeFergie.com or follow @JusticeFergie on Twitter.
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