Being a Girl Scout staff member, I always thought I was cool with camp. These parents who refuse to let their daughters go to camp – I just don’t get it, I would think to myself smugly.
We signed our daughter up for a week in June. “Don’t worry, honey,” I told her. “If you are homesick, they will call me and I can come and pick you up.” In May, we received our “handbook” and packing list. One tip was, “If your daughter is worried about being homesick, don’t tell her you’ll come and pick her up. Focus on what a great time she is going to have and what great friends she’ll make.” “Don’t worry, honey. You will have a great time and you are going to make lots of great friends,” I started amending, with a seed of panic in my heart.
Upon arrival at camp Rowan suddenly looked much tinier and vulnerable than she had 15 minutes earlier. When it came time for me to leave, the counselor must have seen the look of panic on my face and the tears welling up in my daughter’s eyes. “Rowan, I really need a helper and you look like you could be a big help” she cooed, taking Rowan’s hand and marching into the cabin. I sprinted to the car. If I looked back, all was lost. I’m not a helicopter parent but that week I arranged to work close to the camp, just to be nearby in case, you know, my little baby missed me and needed me to fly to her rescue.
The following day, I discovered camp posted pictures during the week. The first picture I saw was the opening night’s campfire, and I found my daughter’s face looking emotionlessly into the campfire. “Oh man, that’s it,” I said to myself, hyperventilating. I braced myself for the phone calls. No phone calls came the entire week. Although I scoured the website for pictures, I didn’t see her in any of them for the rest of the week – it was almost as though the counselors were actively engaging in camp activities with the girls instead of taking 500 photos of each girl for their non-helicopter parents to examine nervously on their website.
I arrived about 45 minutes early and waited in my car until the appointed time. Then I parked and jogged over to the cabin. Ready to see my little baby who had doubtlessly been crying and missing me all week long. She caught sight of me – “Ugh mom, you’re here already,” she said impatiently. “But I want to hang out a little while longer!” Rowan regaled me with stories, songs, and happy tales all the way home from camp.
Girl Scouts Member Support Executive www.girlscoutsaz.org