A bunch of us moms (what is a bunch of moms called, anyway – a gaggle, a murder, a herd?) were talking about summer camp one night while the girls were at swim practice. Because it’s never too early to plan for summer camp. One of the moms, who has a daughter a year older than Dimples, 10, mentioned that her daughter is going to sleep-away camp for the first time this summer. For 3 weeks.
I immediately flashed back to my first experience at sleep-away camp around that age.
My mother had convinced me to go with my best friend, who had been going for years. For one week, I would have the best time of my life, she assured me, swimming in the lake, canoeing, and watching movies.
I was pumped. I really couldn’t wait. I eagerly labelled every item I owned, even if it wasn’t going with me for the week, and told all of my friends what I great time I would have.
The ride to camp seemed even longer due to my excited anticipation. When we arrived at the camp, a facility run by Catholic nuns, I nearly threw myself out of the car.
My mother got me settled in to my cabin, signed all of the appropriate papers which, I’m sure, included one that promised me to a nunnery when I turned 18, and left.
As soon as my mother got in the car, a huge lump rose in my throat.
I turned to my best friend, so she could take my mind off of this sudden rush of homesickness. She was gone. After several years of attending camp, she had a circle of camp friends who were much more fun than I was. She really wasn’t my best friend, anyway; our moms were best friends, and we were always stuck together. Of course, I did not realize this until that moment.
I began to cry. And cry. I couldn’t stop crying. Even when the very nice cabin nun tried to comfort me. Even when we sat in the auditorium watching Ben Hur that night.
Even when the girls told me about the man with the hook that had been seen the night before trying to break in to one of the cabins.
I cried for three days straight. Finally the Head Mother Superior Nun Lady sat me down for a talk.
“Why do you keep crying?” she demanded.
“Because I want to go home!” I sobbed.
This flummoxed her. She could not understand why the engaging activities at her camp would not instantly cure me of wanting to go home.
“How about if I promise to call your parents and ask them to pick you up on Friday instead of Saturday?”
I perked up. This was the first sign anyone had shown of giving in to my hysterics.
“O.K.” I whined. I stopped crying.
For two days, I refrained from crying. Except in my cot at night.
On Friday, I woke up early, dressed, and packed my duffle bag. I sat on my cot after breakfast, waiting for my parents.
Who never came.
The next day, when they finally arrived, I threw myself at them. “Why didn’t you come yesterday?”
“What do you mean?”
Yes, you Smart Readers. You anticipated what I surely should have realized myself. According to my parents, no one had ever called them from the camp.
Now, I ask you – who would you believe, your own parents or Sister Mary Quite Contrary?
I never got to the bottom of this, but the long-term effect was that I now view both Catholics and parents with a critical eye.
And I will not be sending Dimples to summer camp.photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/emiliano-iko/5460822061/”>i k o</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>