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Summer camp offers chance to build lifetime memories | THE MOM STOP

Tuscaloosa News logo Tuscaloosa News 6/25/2022 Lydia Seabol Avant
a close up of a woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Lydia Seabol Avant. [Staff file photo/The Tuscaloosa News] © Michelle Lepianka Carter, Tuscaloosa News Lydia Seabol Avant. [Staff file photo/The Tuscaloosa News]

Summer camp is almost a rite of passage, at least for many American kids.

The summer camp experience includes swimming, hiking, singing camp songs and getting eaten by a million mosquitoes. Camp can also include making wood-burned nametags in the craft hut, the thrill of getting mail from home and going to the “canteen” to spend the cash you brought on snacks.

When I think back to my camp experience, I remember hiking through the woods among giant boulders and up to the top of what seemed to be a very high mountain, although in hindsight it wasn’t all that big.

When I hear songs like “Going on a bear hunt” or “I’m a little hunk of tin,” I’m instantly brought back to Camp Sumatanga, where I spent a week every summer in elementary school and then returned as a camp counselor in high school.

I remember the fear of camping under nothing but a tarp and staying up all night, worried that I’d get bitten by a snake. And I recall the relief knowing that I had passed the required swim test for the week.

I’ve never been much of an outdoors person, but camp is something I knew I always wanted my kids to experience.

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And so, when my 10-year-old and 13-year-old had the opportunity to go to Scout camp last week, I think I was more excited than they were. I pulled large plastic tubs out of our garage closet and wrote their names on each. I bought gallon-sized Ziploc bags and had the kids pack a complete outfit, except for shoes, and put each outfit in a bag, for ease of finding clean laundry at camp.

My type-A self would have gone so far as using a Sharpie pen to write the days of the week  on each bag, but I knew that was going a little far and that my kids wouldn’t likely be paying attention to the dates, anyway.

We went to Wal-Mart and stocked up on two of everything — bug spray, sunscreen, battery-operated fans and first-aid kits. We packed up sleeping bags and sheets, toiletries and swimsuits.

As I dropped my kids off with their packed totes and day packs, I gave each of them a hug, told them to have fun. And I whispered “You can do this.” Partly to them, for also partly for me.

It is the first time both of my oldest kids have been away from us for a full five days. And while I know they weren’t looking forward to the sweltering, triple-digit heat and no air conditioning, I know they are making memories they’ll always remember. I know they’ll look back on the experience later, and, hopefully, appreciate some of the things they got to experience, mosquito bites and all.

As I type this, my house is eerily quiet, as our 7-year-old is temporarily an only child for the week. But I’m counting down the days until we pick up our kids from camp — and I am thankful we have only gotten one homesick phone call so far yet.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at momstopcolumn@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Summer camp offers chance to build lifetime memories | THE MOM STOP

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