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Summer Camp — An Opportunity To Grow

Often it was the first lengthy separation for both mother and child.

For the heart of a child in its buoyancy, is one that is pure and free. So put me in touch with the heart of a child, of the person that is to be. – C. Burtis Hunter

Summer camp – a place where chi ldren catch dreams and counsellors have the opportunity to open the windows of their minds.

Some campers are excited the minute they arrive, while others are apprehensive about their first camp experience. After registering their children, parents check out the sleeping quarters. Moms arrange sleeping bags, fluff pillows and hide secret notes. Dads stand by and devise a plan for a quick getaway. There are tears as dads tug apart moms and children. Eventually, parents leave and the group is alone. But wait. Who is knocking on the cabin door? Oh, just another mom with one more item that may be needed for the week and the lingering goodbye starts again. Is this time away more difficult for the parents or the child?

These heart-tugging parting and reuniting scenes are my most vivid memories as a camp counsellor. Often it was the first lengthy separation for both mother and child.

Camping offers the opportunity to “rough it” in nature, complete with wood ticks and anthills. Sometimes first romances are kindled, inviting the temptation to try and sneak out of the cabin late at night. Summer camp is often a safe place for horsemanship, archery or kayaking lessons – a place to gain a special sense of satisfaction in outdoor accomplishments.

As a counsellor, my heart would swell when campers conquered fears, expanded their horizons and made lifelong memories. No honorarium can match the rewards of working with young people and having the chance of touching a heart.

As a mother, I fear the time when I will experience the same first separation from my children as I observed so lightheartedly as a counsellor. Yes, I will be the mother who returns to the cabin just one more time for another hug!

– Sheila Braun writes from Landmark, Manitoba

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