As school winds down for the year, many kids will partake in day or overnight camps with their friends and siblings. Some will stay local, attending camp at their community centre; others will travel up north and stay at overnight camps in the woods. But wherever they are headed, if they have food allergies, their parents will probably worry.
I was fortunate enough to attend camp in some capacity for every summer from the age of five (at YMCA John Island's family camp) through to the age of 29 (as the director of YMCA Camp Kitchikewana). In those 25 or so summers in between, I had the pleasure of attending and/or working at seven camps in total. The following is what I took away from a quarter century of camp.
Dylan's chronic condition comes from an abnormal response from his body's immune system. It causes excruciating pain, with frequent trips to the washroom creating great embarrassment. In practical terms, it has influenced every aspect of his life, leading him to quit hockey, miss field trips, and decline invites to social outings.
Care packages are little packages of goodies and gifts that parents, friends or family put together and mail off to their little campers as reminders of home and to let them know we're thinking of them. However as many camps will tell you, parents often do not understand what is appropriate to send.
Those feelings of being homesick and missing my family (and my dog) happened again the second year that I went to camp, but I was ready for them and knew how to handle them and that it was going to be okay. Here is some advice for people who are going to overnight camp for the first (second or third) time.
Summer is a time for play, and kids know it. The pressure is off, and it's time to relax! Homework and tests are replaced with bike-riding and swimming. If you're lucky, you even get to go to camp. What the kids don't realize is, there's as much to learn at camp as at school, and those lessons can't be taught with books. What they're learning is how to deal with life.
You go to bed exhausted and you wake up way too early. Campers love to stay up whispering to each other (about who sucked at field hockey, that sort of thing), just like moms jump at the chance to hang out with adults, whose food they don't have to cut up, and who don't argue with you about why you can have another glass of wine, but they can't have another pop.
Daily updates of the scandals washing over politicians from Montreal to Ottawa to Toronto have some officials looking more like Clay Davis of The Wire's Baltimore than much else. Where have all the leaders gone? Part of the problem, surely, is who we deify. We are guilty of perpetuating a celebrity-obsessed culture, whether those figures drop rhymes, dimes, or guidelines.
My two youngest children are away at camp, and this reprieve from the usual melee that goes on at my house has allowed me to reflect on those things that kids do, and that use up equal measures of time and patience in ways you wouldn't realize unless you had kids, and then suddenly they were gone. Allow me to explain...