Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Mother's Angst

Benjamin didn't have the best year at summer camp last year. There weren't enough boys his age, and he really didn't settle in to the routine. He didn't have a bad time... he just wasn't ready to go back. So this year, we found a different camp, Douglas Ranch Camps, in Carmel Valley. It had a two week session, and had the advantage of being a mere 20 minute drive from our summer rental... just in case. It also offered a structure that appealed, though I wasn't that excited about two of the required activities - riflery and archery, and I knew Benjamin wouldn't be keen on the horses... but the pool looked nice in the pictures! And their website and international mix was truly impressive.

When we arrived, the organization was impressive, and the tennis courts top-notch. Then we got to the cabins - so rustic that they made Annika's camp look like a luxury hotel! Wooden shacks, holes in the walls, no windows, bathroom a walk away... but hey, it's camp.

Christopher and I dropped Benjamin off, made his bed and said goodbye. He wasn't happy... but he didn't want us around, either. When we left, he was pulling out fishing pictures to show his counselor, so I crossed my fingers and drove away. Then two agonizing weeks followed, waiting for word from camp. My motto became, "No news is good news" since we didn't hear a word.

The camp posts pictures from time to time during the sessions, and the first 51 pictures came out on the 7th day. And Benjamin was not in a single one of them. By the 9th day, the second lot was posted (and I was checking several times a day), and Benjamin was visible in 5, but not smiling in any.

By day 12, the third lot had one picture of him with a half smile. At least I knew he was still alive...

When we picked him up, he seemed really happy, and the reports were promising. He made some friends - Luis who wanted him to stay one session more, Alejandro, Luke, and more. The counselors commented on how nice he was, how polite he was (!) and how he had settled in (much better the second week than the first). On the down side, he did learn the word "demerit" and experienced them... by having his elbows on the table... and by getting into a fistfight (to help his friend Luke get something back from one of the bigger boys, according to B). All the kids were involved in an activity demonstration, and Benjamin was in the barn dancing - and seemed to have a great time doing it.

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