The history of summer camps reflects the desire of parents to get their children outside of the urban areas during the summer…. to refresh, reflect, and often times, to get them out of harms way. In these days of ongoing anguish over the occurrences in Boston, our natural inclination is to cling to our kids tightly. And yet, as history has shown, there comes a time when letting go provides the greatest healing for our children.
I found this article written by Chaim Potok:
“During the first two decades of my life, the thirties and forties, poliomyelitis was a frightful scourge made all the more horrifying in that most of the afflicted were children. Summertime the disease would run rampant through urban populations, striking randomly, at times paralyzing the legs and the respiratory system of its victims. Parents sought desperately to send their sons and daughters out of cities–to summer camp.
Those polio epidemics, as we called them, would begin with the coming of late spring and hang over us like shrouds all through the summer months, and fade only with the end of the summer camp season and the first cold weather of autumn. A train or bus would carry us away from that invisible killer and the streets it menaced, and only when we were out of the city across the bridge or through the tunnel would I feel myself begin to shed the miasma of dread under which we lived. Each summer a dreamlike world presented itself to my innocent eyes: vast green fields and rolling hills and dense stands of trees and the sky an astonishing blue, open, enormous. My family–left behind. My street and neighborhood and city-vanished. The threat of paralysis or death–gone; for the time being, blessedly gone.
And so, as I grew up, chief among the uses of summer camp was the saving of young lives.
The first night in a summer camp: excitement, anxiety, apprehension, disquiet. Strangers in bunk beds. Cold clear night air. Cicadas and frogs: the mysterious pulsing of the earth. Then, finally, the fall into deep sleep. And awake early to the birds and the dawn. Ground mist on the grass and in the woods. Silent ghostly trees. A lowing cow somewhere in the distance. Blades of grass jeweled with crystalline beads of dew glistening in the first rays of the sun. A city child gazing through a cabin window on his first wondrous morning in a summer camp.”
In today’s world, we are saving our children in so many ways by letting go and allowing them to breathe the fresh air, disconnect from the world that bombards them with information 24/7. Allowing our children to just be children is the greatest gift we can give them. Holding on tightly, and passing our insecurities to them is not helping them cope. By letting go, we are teaching them to move on, to live, to enjoy life. It is critical to select wisely and certainly do your homework and make sure that you are always sending your children to a safe, secure, and well run program. But do not hold on due to fear…. Let go and invest in their future health, happiness, independence and success.
Let them soar!!!