Some of my favorite childhood memories came from attending day camp. I made many friends there; many of whom I still talk to over Facebook to this day. I was a camper, a C.I.T., a senior counselor, and a bus counselor. I took countless trips to the Jersey shore with my fellow campers where we walked the boardwalk and rode the amusements at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier until the sun went down. And then there were the boys–first crushes, first loves, summer romances and a great soundtrack of ’80s and ’90s music to embrace it all. I remember it like it was yesterday.
When I grew up and had kids of my own, I wanted to enroll them in summer camp as soon as possible. I may have been more excited on their first day of camp than they were. Jenna started when she was just 4 years old. She went for half a day at first, came home happy and exhausted. She loved it so much that she asked if she could go back during the school year. It was an easy decision to switch her to a full day the following summer. A few years after that Andrew joined her there. For the longest time, I schlepped the two of them to and from camp because I thought they were too young to take the bus.
Soon enough, they got on the bus, learned to swim, played every kind of sport imaginable, created artistic “treasures” in pottery class, danced in camp music videos, conquered the rock wall and the zip line and made s’mores, friends and memories. Both kids looked forward to extra swims on hot afternoons. Fridays brought Carnival Day, County Fairs, Water Fun Day, and sometimes sleepovers on the campgrounds. Even the parents flocked to camp to see what the kids were up to on Visitors Day and Family Fun Night.
I can’t believe that 13 years have flown by and just like that, my kids have outgrown their beloved day camp. When the reminder email to register for this summer came the other day, I had to send a heartfelt goodbye to the camp director.
“After over a decade of day camp at Elbow Lane, our kids will sadly not be returning this year. Jenna and Andrew have truly enjoyed their experience as campers from the time they were Munchkins through Senior Camp and as C.I.T.s. They learned to swim (thanks to your wonderful instructors), made many friends and had a lot of fun along the way. Please remove us from your mailing list.”
“Thank you for the kind words. Its been many years together and I value your support and loyalty for every one of those years! Best Wishes to both Jenna and Andrew as they grow into young adulthood! We will take you off our list.”
And just like that, another childhood milestone passed me by…and a very fond one at that. Fortunately, the kids remain in touch with their friends outside of camp and I hope that stays that way along with memories that I’m sure will last a lifetime.
We will miss you Elbow Lane!