There has been a fair amount written about a parent’s life as their children are off at sleep away camp. I think we’re called the “refresh” generation. We sit in front of our computer, hitting refresh on the camp website in the hopes of catching a glimpse of our child to reassure ourselves that s/he is indeed okay, healthy, smiling, socially appropriate and in clean clothes. For many years, I mocked this very trend. We were working in IO and got to see our kids daily to be certain they had toothpaste and used it. So I ask forgiveness from the refresh club because I have joined your ranks.
Camp Stone, clearly inadvertently, has tried to cure us of the “refresh” compulsion. Days will go by without my child’s bunk showing up on the website only to have one day when 113 pictures of their bunk are uploaded. They are missing the point. We need the illusion that there is a possibility that we can see our kid each and every day. Not 30 times in one day, but once a day for 30 days. When I see them on the site, Yael and Yoni look great. Smiling, surrounded by friends, clearly loving camp. (Truth: last year after a sad letter from Yael I had to analyze her smile in camp pictures to see that she was ok.)
But today the website pictures wouldn’t suffice. We head up to camp to dump tons of food on our kids, to see them before we fly back home. They’ll fly back five days later after camp ends with Chananya Rothner (who, we all agree, is way more responsible than any of us). And suddenly there they are in their three-dimensional glory, flying across the migrash (having just thrown their Rosh Mosh into the lake) looking so so summer perfect. And there is magic when you see your kids for 120 minutes. Yoni decides that Eitan is truly an awesome brother (to say that the rest of the year he feels otherwise doesn’t even begin to cover it). Yael begs me to ask questions so she can just tell me every detail out there. Yoni takes pride in showing off his siblings. They are thrilled that we are there. No one cries too much when we leave. It is glorious.
We head to Chautauqua to meet up with my brother for our final goodbye. (Sidenote: I have managed to sidestep most goodbyes so far. I am a coward, but it is working for me.) It is rainy. David and David are BBQing in a park somewhere as my kids tuck into the Disney channel to unwind. I am always happy when I am near water so Lake Chautauqua is ending this day, calming me, reassuring me and making me smile.
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