Sleepaway Camp

I dropped Bodhi at the bus yesterday for his first-ever week of sleepaway camp. He had been resisting this notion for over a year when he was “upped” last year to Intermediate level at San Francisco Boys Chorus and thus, obligated to attend the “Away Camp” in Healdsburg. But amazingly, when the morning came to go, he was more concerned with not being late for the bus, than with trying to hide under the house or find some other avoidance technique.

When Todd and I were kids, we “hated” camp. I’m not sure this was originally my notion. It may well have been something Todd instilled in me. First was Camp Len-How, a day camp with the usual types of activities. It’s a bit blurry for me now but I do remember that on the second day when the carpool came to pick us up, we hid upstairs in my mom’s room hoping the car would drive away without us. Oh, how Todd hated it. Listening to Bodhi and some of his friends this year, I realized that there may be some sort of “cool factor” about hating camp or speaking ill of it. Anyone with ideas about this please share.

Our sleepaway camp was Camp Wapalane in Stokes State Forest, NJ. It was a conservation camp with a lot of science, outdoor education, as well as swimming, boating, archery and my favorite, riflery. The first year went off without a hitch, but the second year, for some unknown reason, I became extremely homesick. I cried at every meal and begged the counselors and director to let me call home, hoping to get someone to come and pick me up. Incredibly, I made so much noise that eventually someone did. My sister Carol, and my sister Nora’s husband came to get me sometime in the second week of camp and I got to actually ‘quit.’

On Thursday morning, Bodhi played with the other kids in the parking lot and a kid he knew brought him an extra tennis racket which I hope he’ll use. He smiled after hugging me and ran onto the bus with a quick wave, settling in beside that boy in the very front seat. And now I am living simply, alone in the house, time for catching up with myself, Amee away on business. It’s the first time without Bodhi here for this length of time. A step forward into time, the time when he becomes an independent person and we feather our empty nest.

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