Growing Up Camp

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Last weekend I dropped my oldest son, Sam, off for college. It was an emotion filled day – mostly feelings of pride and excitement. Occasionally my heart would contract resulting in a few tears as the reality of him being in college became more and more real. Where did the time go?! All in all, I think I did pretty well in bringing my Best Self to this significant day!

The days before we departed we made lists, we sorted through the clothes (adventure shorts and Voyageur rugby? yes; coat and tie worn daily in high school? no), and we bought a few essentials for dorm life so that we could pack. It was in many ways like packing for camp (we even used the camp trunk!) but for a lot longer. In fact, when it came time to pack Sam insisted we actually do the packing from our camp house, not our town house. Although this required filling the car to take said clothes and essentials to camp, unload them into the camp house, and then sort again for packing, I obliged without complaint. He was preparing himself to leave for college, and Merrowvista is where he wanted to launch from.

I found myself flooded with memories as I packed that trunk in the same place I had packed it when he was first a 2 week Pioneer in Blueberry Village and every summer after until his Odyssey and Voyageur were complete. I remembered being nervous – would he make friends, would he wear sunscreen, would he lose his raincoat? I thought about the trips he had loved, the moments that were hard for him and how proud he was after that he hadn’t given up, how much he learned about himself, and about how he did not like quinoa for breakfast!

Sam Kiley college dropoffBut mostly I was filled with gratitude. I was, and am, grateful that as he prepared for the biggest transition in his life thus far, he wanted to immerse back into camp for a few days. He wanted to be surrounded by the wonder and power of this community, surrounded by staff and campers living with intention. He did dishes with campers, hung out in the craft cabin, added his voice to a candlelight sing – filling his tank with the joy and magic created when the mission of AYF comes to life.

I was (and am) grateful for every staff person and camper that has helped my child, and thousands more, discover and develop their Own, Best Self. Those who patiently and enthusiastically helped him learn what it means to be kind and respectful, who have inspired him to want to make the world a better place. I am grateful to all who have
supported AYF over the years, and who continue to support us, so that so many can experience this mission and bring their Own, Best Selves to the opportunities that await them!

The night before we left for college, Sam, his dad and I sat on the dock under the stars. It was beautiful – the outline of the mountains against the night sky circling us and the occasional shooting star passing by. We didn’t talk much (I would have cried had I tried, anyway!), but there was a feeling of calm and contentment. He knew he was ready for whatever lay ahead, and so did I.


With Gratitude and a Very Full Heart,