Summer ’22 was the summer that Trevor was six, and a season of high anxiety for me! The reason was simple: Trevor went to his very first summer camp. He attended for full days (from about 9am to 3:30pm), Monday through Friday; and he attended for the entire month of July.
I’ll start with the good parts. Trevor really enjoyed camp; he always looked forward to going every morning. In fact, he often stated that he liked camp better than school. He always shows great enthusiasm for everything he’s involved in, and I’ll be forever grateful for that. I’ve never had to deal with drop-off tears or, “I don’t want to go” tantrums, or anything like that. Trevor is always eager for every experience, and I’m very thankful.
I’ve never been able to get many details about his day-to-day activities at school, and the same was true for camp. I was never really clear what happened, because Tru just shuts down when I ask. I have to wait for him to introduce the topic on his own whim, and then he’ll tell me a specific story that’s apparently significant to him. My understanding is that he was involved in mostly outdoor activities (like volleyball and basketball) and that he got plenty of time for swimming in the pool each day. He loves being active, he loves being physical, he loves playing outside. This is the reason I signed him up for camp in the first place. Tru is so active; so high energy. He thrives in a structured environment where he has one activity after the next scheduled. He just goes stir crazy when left to his own devices in the house. So he was really happy with the outdoor camp environment. What more could a parent want, right?
Well. My own struggles as a parent were through the roof. I could hardly concentrate on anything but my worries for the entire month. What it came down to: Tru has always been blessed to have lots of caring and concerned older adults watching out for him throughout his preschool and kindergarten years. At camp, there weren’t caring and concerned adults watching him closely, and I just couldn’t deal with it. The camp was mostly supervised by high-school-aged counselors. Tru had somewhere around twenty-three 6-year-old boys in his group, and I think two counselors?? I should also mention July of ’22 was an extremely dry and hot month. We had absolutely no rain, but plenty of days that approached 100 degrees. Here were some of my experiences of camp from my “Mom Perspective”:
- Water. Tru would return from a full day at camp with his water bottle still full, in that record-breaking heat! I’d ask if he was given water breaks, and he’d say “no, we’re given Kool-Aid at lunch.” Doesn’t Kool-Aid count as candy rather than a hydrating beverage??! I was so worried about him becoming dehydrated, I’d daily remind him before camp to “remember to keep drinking water through the day!”
- Sunscreen. I’d put sunscreen on Tru before he started camp in the morning, but it only lasts about 2 hours. The counselors told me they would remind him to reapply throughout the day, but then Trevor would say he “forgot.” Plus, Tru is six, so he’s definitely not careful and thorough with his sunscreen application. I was constantly terrified he’d get an awful sunburn in the intense heat. I didn’t want to be an overbearing, annoying parent, so I only asked the counselors once. After that, I’d just remind Trevor everyday before camp, “remember sunscreen before the pool and after the pool!” All while trying to sound cool and collected, so as not to instill tons of fear in him!
- Swimming. Tru’s had swimming lessons, and he loves the pool. But he’s not a really strong swimmer yet. I was terrified by what level of supervision was possible with a giant, noisy groups of kids in the pool. It definitely didn’t help that we received an email prior to the start of camp notifying us that an ambulance was called when a child nearly drowned (the child was quickly rescued and completely fine in the end).
- Filth. Trevor returned home from camp – every single afternoon – literally covered head to toe in dirt. I began undressing him outdoors when we arrived home because the dirt would spill from his shoes and pockets. My understanding is that they had several sandy areas (such as the volleyball pit) where Tru loved to play. I quickly learned to dress him only in his “worst” clothes because of the filth. I’d even have to wash his lunchbox and backpack!
- Carelessness. Once per week, the camp would offer a “snack bar” that sold various movie-theater-sized chocolates and candies for $2. Trevor, with his enormous sweet tooth, of course loved this. One day, he came home reporting that his friend’s parent had given the child a $20 bill. So the counselors allowed that child to purchase ten – yes ten – jumbo-sized candies. The child then shared all of that candy with Trevor. I was practically in tears when I heard that story. In fact, I was practically in tears – sometimes literally in tears – after dropping him off some days.
I’ve never experienced anxiety like I have as a parent! And it just reached peak intensity this summer.
But there was fun too:
Trevor graduated from Kinderhaus! How can that be?? His preschool didn’t do a formal graduation ceremony, and neither did his Kinderhaus class. So that was disappointing. But Trevor’s class did do an end-of-the-year presentation on the solar system. Perfect for Tru, he loves outer space! Trevor got to play the part of Jupiter, his favorite planet. Each student had a couple of lines to recite and they all sang songs. It was really special for Chris and I because it was one of the first times we were allowed into his classroom all year (due to pandemic regulations). Trevor’s teachers reported that he’s thriving in the classroom and very self-motivated. Although it’s challenging driving him to school and picking him up every day, we’ll continue with this school he loves!
Trevor discovered a new love: running! He participated in his school’s Field Day and decided to join the Mile Run. I didn’t think a 6-year-old could complete a mile, but Tru did! He ran the whole thing, stopping only to drink water after each lap around the track. Several of the parents were impressed with his tenacity, including me! Later in the summer, Chris entered himself and Tru in a local family one-mile run. Tru completed the mile in 9 minutes, 24 seconds (that included a pit stop to run into the crowd and give his Grampy a high five!) He began asking questions about running a marathon and how to train for one.
We all had so much fun on the golf course during our first summer as members of a golf club. Golf remains Trevor’s favorite sport, and he’s an excellent golfer. I’m often amazed by his putting skills. It’s like he can visualize the projected direction of the ball in a way I can’t even begin to understand. He can easily spot the slope of the ground and the way the ball will curve; or the speed required based on the terrain. I’ve found that golf is – by far – my favorite of Trevor’s sports also. The course is just so wide open and beautiful and peaceful. I love to join Chris and Trevor and just walk the course and breathe the fresh air, even if I don’t play at all! Where his team sports can feel crazy and chaotic, golf is just calming and soothing to my soul! I had no idea I’d enjoy being out on the course as much as I do.
We did a boat ride for Chris’s birthday! We followed the trip with a seafood dinner downtown. Tru had a blast. He spent the entire trip steering the boat and chit chatting with the captain! I thought it would be a fun way for our family to connect, but Trevor was too busy captaining the boat to bother with Chis and I! Tru gets a lot of compliments from adults on his ability to converse with people; he’s very talkative and outgoing. As a shy and introverted person, it’s frequently challenging for me. When Trevor starts up conversations with strangers, I’m required to come out of my shell and talk too. Oh, all the ways parenting forces you to grow!
We always love visits to the farm to do peach and flower picking! It’s much tougher to get Trevor to laugh for photos at his age. Gone are the days where silly faces and silly words would make him burst out laughing. He does still love to be funny though. He developed a habit of talking like a baby or speaking in Minion “banana language.” It cracks me up. Usually when he jumps into our bed at 6am, he starts in with his silly language immediately.
We love to visit the beach especially on weekdays around sunset, when the beaches tend to empty out. Tru loves to play in the sand and will spend forever just digging holes. Sweet Calvin loves to join us. He’s 10 years old now. Although he did go through a tough back surgery a couple of years ago, he was strong and healthy through the summer. Although he can only do short summer walks because he overheats. He starts panting a lot and then he just sits down in the grass and refuses to budge. I call him “Coodle,” “Coodleson,” and “Coo” for short. Sometimes I call him by his fancy name which is, “Coodleton the Beagleton of the House.”
Tru’s reached an age where he can handle long car rides and late nights without meltdowns! What a joy! We did several trips this summer. We went to dinner and a drive-in movie to see the latest Minion movie. I loved watching that movie with Tru! He sat in my lap in the passenger seat, and was able to “get” a lot of the jokes; he laughed several times. It was the cutest thing! We also did our usual trip to Kimball Farms. Tru and I did the Soaring Eagle Zipline together, but he had the most fun with the 9-hole Pitch & Putt Course.
We also did a day trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame. It was fun for all of us, and Tru must have spent an hour shooting hoops at the end. The court featured shorter hoops for little kids and even peach basket hoops! Tru also had fun running around the Dr Seuss Museum – that was such a fascinating and imaginative place, for kids and adults!
I’ve already mentioned how much I’ve loved age 6, how much I wish it could last forever!