Off to Camp!  Free at last, free at last…

Today, the children of my children are off to Camp Timberlane.  Max is the oldest at 16 – this year he will be a CIT and he is so excited.

For us it means too long without our grandkiddies – those fabulous geniuses who we can kiss and hug and enjoy…and then leave with their parents as we head off home. So we bring goodies and money to give them as they board the bus.  We kiss and squeeze them and feel sort of happy, but also nostalgic.

“Good bye!” shout their parents.  “Don’t forget to write!  Oh, we are so sad to see you go (yah, for sure)!  We will miss you so much (not that much)!”

Why I do believe that my evil children are glad to see their own children go away.  How is that possible?

25 years ago!

It seems just like yesterday!  Back then many of us whose kids were going off to camp were friends.  We were lucky that we could afford to pay the fees – many of us had to limit our own spending during the year to make sure that NOTHING prevented the kiddies from their summer holiday…or ours.

7.5 weeks of freedom!  We all stood at the buses with unhappy (phony) looks on our faces, pretending that we were soooo sad to see our kids leaving us.  And we waved and blew kisses as the buses pulled out of the parking lot.

And then!  As soon as we got the word that the buses had made the turn towards the highway, cheers erupted.  We were ecstatic!  Goodbye you little darlings – don’t call us, we’ll call you!

Back then most of us were stay at home mothers –occasional babysitters were around but most of the time we cooked, we drove car pools, and we sat in the park while the kids climbed and rolled and cut their knees.  I know that today many working mothers have the same responsibilities – my daughter-in-laws are the best – but we didn’t have the intellectual diversion of careers during those early years.  And no matter what the parenting books say – it can get very boring doing walks in the malls during the bad weather.  Play dates were usually a couple of mothers and the kids

And the responsibility was constant.  So when the kids were old enough to go to a sleep-over camp, yahoo!!!

Four of my children were sent off to camp.  Labels had to be sewn on all their clothes, including socks (8 pairs for each kid – (4 x 16). Can you believe it?  Lucky for me, Jerry was in the shmatta business so he could sew as well as anyone. There were no shortcuts – no emails – no I-Pads, no cell phones, no laptops.

Of course we did have to prepare for Visitors Day half way through the season.  We would cook their favourites, get up at 6:00 a.m to pick up fresh bagels to go with the lox and cream cheese they liked and off we would go to Haliburton.  We were younger and drove much faster than we do today.  We arrived at the Pinestone for coffee around 8:30 a.m. (should be a 3+ hour drive for ordinary folk) and sat around with some other parents until it was time to drive another 20 minutes to the camp itself.

Jerry and I were always the first ones at the gate waiting for the 10:00 a.m. horn to blow that would allow us into the hallowed grounds.  And for the next 15 years that our kids went to camp, first as campers and then eventually as counsellors, we continued to be there at the opening bell.

And I can proudly tell you that when grandson Max went to Timberlane for the first time three years ago, Jerry and I were still the first ones at the gate to visit.  When his parents did show up they were confident that they didn’t have to speed because they knew that Bubbie and Zaydie would definitely be the first ones there.

Oh, the nostalgia – and how wonderful it is.  I do confess that back then we were very happy to see our kids on Visitors Day, especially since we were lucky parents who had children who loved camp. They behaved as they should to make sure that they would be allowed to return.

And when we watched our children with their children on Visitor’s Day, memories overwhelmed us along with an acceptance that the reality of our lives had changed.

Even though our grandkiddies are always happy to see us, it is their parents they really want to be with.  And we understand.  We really don’t have to take the long trek to camp any more.  The internet and the camp’s state of the art web site makes our grandkiddies as close as our computer screen – we can watch them laughing and playing soccer and swimming and doing arts and crafts – and it is just a delight.  We still send them written notes twice a week – we know that even with email access, it is still great to have your name called to pick up some mail.

The passage of time does take a toll.  We can’t drive up to camp and back in one day any longer.  Of course, we can stay over and golf which we did last year.  But unfortunately, camp visiting days now evoke a triple price increase at the local inns so we will probably take a pass this year.

Or maybe we won’t.  Now that we have given the kisses and waved like mad as the bus pulled away, it is hard to believe that in 3 weeks we won’t just get into our car and start driving up north again. Just in case I’ll have the bagels, lox and cream cheese ready.  Like their parents, it’s my grandkiddies’ favourite too.

Another page turns.  It is inevitable.  How lucky we have been…and still are!