My three boys and I were a real team. Their dad traveled four to five days per week, bringing home the bacon, while I worked part time and took care of the gold — three delicious young boys. I took them to just about every ball game, sitting by the sidelines, watching, cheering and wishing for their success. We ate dinner together almost every night of their growing up years…. red clay in the homemade tv dinners brought to the baseball fields, so we would all cheer on the brother playing, was a memory I will never forget. Three boys in three years causes a lot of togetherness. I was good at just about everything they needed…. I could play sports, I could help with homework, I could cook and re-cook (they call me the Queen of Re-Heat!), I could discipline and I could love.
But there was one thing I could not do and did not like to even witness…. I HATED WHEN THEY WRESTLED!!
It made me crazy! I was sure one of them was going to snap the other one’s neck. Their shrieks of pain, anger and outrage scared the hell out of me. But that was boy language for THIS IS SO MUCH FUN! And as a mom, I just did not get it. Knowing I could not be all things to these three boys, and yet wanting them desperately to have some good male pushing and shoving, I recruited….
During the summer, they went to sleepaway camp and learned how to be a good “guy” (I could teach them how to be a good person – slight difference). From the male counselors, they learned not only sports but they also learned how to fall, and wipe off the dirt and bruised egos and get back into the game. They learned how to stand up for themselves and how to enjoy being a guy. Camp, with young and well-trained counselors, offered my boys the best opportunity to look up to someone close enough in age to really get where they were in life and how they could become the best they could be. When a parent tells and even demonstrates to their child the right path, it makes a good dent in their development. But it gets old fast. To have a perceived “peer” tell them the direction of their future, it is solid gold.
As written by Michael Thompson, Ph.D., a psychologist, school and camp consultant, and author of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow,
“Children love to learn, but they get tired of being taught by adults. Children want to learn from older children, and, at a camp that means older campers, C.I.T.’s (counselors in training) and camp counselors. They want to live with them, emulate them, absorb them. In our age-segregated society, camp is the only place in America where an 11-year-old can get the sustained attention of a 19-year-old. In return for the attention of these “older children,” campers will make sacrifices. They will follow all kinds of rules and adhere to all kinds of rituals that they would likely fight at home. There’s just no contest between parents and counselors. The college students are vastly better looking than we are; they are truly cool and they have dazzling skills. When children need a summer filled with growth and change (not to mention fun and glory), I tell their parents to give camp a chance.”
In my experience, camp was a must have for my kids. And I am so proud of the wonderful men they have become….