The Dreaded Camp Drop Off


Posted by Danny

Although I worked at Camp Sea Gull and understand the value of resident camp for kids, I still get butterflies when I drop my girls off at Seafarer.  It was hard when when Lisa was here; it’s harder now.

I remember when we first signed DJ up for Camp Kanata when she was seven.  Lisa was determined to begin helping DJ gain some independence, something she desperately needed.  I, on the other hand, was worried sick. 

That Sunday morning we were working to finish up the laundry.  Bailey was clearly concerned.  Every time I’d look at her I’d get a lump in my throat – “I’ll go check the laundry,” I’d offer.

“Didn’t you just check it?”  Lisa would clarify.  “Good Lord man, it’s a week of camp in Durham.  We’re not sending her to Indonesia for the summer.”

Lisa did all of the packing for camp.  Another thing I was totally unprepared for.  I started pulling out bathing suits a week or so ago – we seemed to be fine, there were several.  Then we headed to the pool last weekend.  By the time we were ready to go, this nice little hand-me-down bikini that fit just perfectly at 2:00 was sagging to Michelle’s knees by 5:00.  The outer material covering her butt just drooped – like an old lady’s butt.  I’d never seen anything like it. 

Along with the new bathing suits, I bought her new Crocs, Rainbow flip-flops and bug spray – because the 15 bottles we already have at our house just didn’t make the cut.  It’s that Target thing.  I just panic in there.  A counter full of bug spray when I know it’s on the camp list just won’t let me pass it by. 

“What if I’m wrong?  What if there aren’t five bottles of bug spray in the kitchen cabinet that I open and look at six times a week?  What if all five bottles are almost empty?  What if they have passed their expiration date?  She could be eaten alive by a pack of horsefly.  I won’t be there to look after her and I bet those counselors would never notice.  I’ll just buy the damn stuff.  Where’s the biggest bottle (her friends might need some) with Cutter.”

My child’s can of Off could spray down a camp of 1,200 girls for six years.  Twenty dollars it’s unopened when I pick her up.

What a bunk! Complete with egg crate, matress cover, matching sheets and a Camp Seafarer blanket. The bug spray is in her locker.

I had almost finished packing Michelle when I remembered that Lisa wrote the kids’ names on all of their clothes tags with a Sharpie marker.  Errr – I pulled it all back out.  I’m glad our last name isn’t Von Bibberstein.

Life size cut out, it's almost like she's there!

Michelle was worried that I might miss her so she created a life-size cutout of herself with the assistance of her babysitter.  She convinced me to tape it on my dresser so I’d remember her every morning and every night.  I kind of like having her there for the week.  I may put the cutout in the car and take her to dance and piano  – it’ll feel just like she’s here.

Stephanie rode with me for the drop off.  She worked hard to make sure I was OK even sporting a shower cap from the hotel on her head as a distraction.  “Do you like my new look dad?  Would you call room service and ask them if they’d bring a few more of these up here?  I think we should all wear them tomorrow when we drop Michelle off.”

Last year Michelle cried at breakfast, lunch and dinner I was told.  This year she was convinced that she’d be ok.  “You know dad, my buddy Annie has never been to camp before.  I’m going to tell her I’ll be there for her if she gets upset.”  I wondered who she was going to lean on when the tears were rolling into her scrambled eggs tomorrow morning.

Thanks to Stephanie and a year of maturity for both Michelle and me, things went alright!  I think we’re headed for a very good week.

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