Today was a special day in the Mapp household, my daughter Arwen and friend Maya began their first day at a week long summer program at Camp Bothin, located in Marin County, California with the Girl Scouts of Northern California.
All last week was spent picking up last minute items at REI, and making sure all the requisite forms and supplies were accounted for. But as the departure day grew near, I noticed Arwen became more excited, and I more nervous.
See, this is the first time my daughter has slept away from home for so long without family.
Even her 4th grade overnight trip to local Point Bonita with her class a few months ago did not adequately prepare me for the discomfort of today – and the recognition of her independence and need to create bonds and friendships outside of the shelter of our family and local community. She was doing big girl thangs I realized!
Being Outdoor Afro does not always shield me and my family from the challenges of connecting with the outdoors. I appreciated and experienced first hand how it takes a lot of effort, resources, and coordination to get a little girl to camp!
So as I was checking daughter in, there I went with all the nagging concerns of any parent – experienced or not with the camp experience:
Where are the bathrooms? Are they clean? – click to see for yourself
What counselor will sleep in the room with the girls? Who are they?
Will the girls get along?
But mixed in with any anxiety of leaving my daughter, was also a deep sense of anticipation and pride. I remember vividly the joy of camping with my own Girl Scout troop when I was exactly her age. The songs we sang; rituals we performed to open and close the days, our “kapers” (chores), and a sense of community of all girls where you felt the joy of endless possibility. Those experiences still powerfully inform my work today, and I am grateful my daughter gets to continue this particular tradition of connecting to nature.
As Maya’s mom and I left the girls, who were already making new friends, we did feel a sting of sadness in our eyes, but deeper within recognized the gift of camp that will remain with these girls forever.
Did your children attend overnight camp this year? Was it challenging? Easy? Let us know!
Check out more American Camp Association Accredited Camps like this one, and other Girl Scout Camps!