Let Your Kid’s Summer Camp Handle the Parenting

A month away from arguing, cajoling, nagging and yelling? Sign us up!

We’re going to party like it’s 1999. Seriously. 1999 was the last year we weren’t parents. Our daughter, who was born in 2000, is leaving for sleep-away camp. Woo Hoo!

The whole sleep-away camp thing was never really on my radar until recently. Maybe because I tried it myself once for a couple of weeks in middle school and thought it was hell on earth. My husband’s experience was worse than mine and sounded more like basic training meets abuse, as opposed to fun and games by a lake. Then, last year, our daughter announced she wanted to go to sleep-away camp this summer. I shouldn’t be surprised since she’s so independent. She’ll probably want her own apartment soon. In Paris. I just don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me that I could get so much time off from parenting. Yeah!

I know lots of Main Line parents who send their children to camps in other states, like Maine or New Hampshire, which involves complicated things like flying. We chose the Poconos. It’s close enough to drive, we know other kids who go there and the real bonus: our friend’s daughter is a counselor. I’ll be able to sleep knowing she’s in really good hands, and I can occasionally text their daughter to find out how it’s going. This way I get to be a concerned parent while still having a really good time.

Of course, we had to debate the duration. I said two weeks. She countered with a month. I offered three weeks. Deal. Except the camp only offers month-long sessions. They said I could have her back after three weeks, but she wouldn’t want to go home because none of the other kids would be leaving. So the kid and the camp won. A month it is. Damn. A month away from arguing, cajoling, nagging, yelling, picking up after her and driving her around. How will I ever cope? [SIGNUP]

But nothing’s free, of course. First, we must purchase a two-pages-long list of camp supplies, all of which I’m told I’ll want to burn when upon return. Really, I cannot get over the length of this list. Everything from sheets to shin guards should leave us sufficiently strapped, especially after paying the camp fees, which cost more than my university tuition. (Okay, that was in education-subsidized Canada 20 years ago, but still, this is not a cheap proposition.) Just call it the cost of freedom; it’s going to be worth every cent!

Finally we get to drop her off. For a month! We’ll be free. Free to go on weekend jaunts and overnights. Free to go to dinners and concerts without finding or paying a babysitter. Free to come and go as we please. It’ll be just like the old days, except now we get tired earlier. My husband volunteered clothing-optional weeknights, but that’s just not going to happen. I don’t want to mentally scar the neighbors should I pass a window. But I am planning to revel in days of not looking at my watch or having my child talk until my ears bleed. We’ll miss her, of course. At least I think we will … I wonder if they’ll hear our tires screeching out of the parking lot when we drop her off.