So school has been out for two weeks and in that time I have packed for the beach, dropped 2 of the 3 off at camp, picked one up from camp, hosted my parents and 3 of my nieces and nephews at the beach. May sound exhausting but I am happy to say I have loved every minute and actually feel like I have had a vacation. I will say that it has not all been peaches and cream but rather some work on my part. I am going to share my tips for preparing for camp and how I actually enjoyed my vacation.
This was the first year that we have sent our 7 ½ year old daughter to camp. After 4 years of watching her brother go to Camp Sea Gull she asked if she could go to Camp Seafarer. I was in no way prepared for her being away from me for a week but she wanted to go. So now I have 2 that I need to get ready. This is my plan of attack:
- XL duffel bag with wheels. Don’t need to spend a lot of money, mine is from Wal-Mart and I let Sarah Chason decorate with paint pens. I pack sheets, towels on bottom and clothes on top. I always try to only have one bag go to camp.
- Inexpensive twin sheets and light weight blanket, foam egg crate and zippered pillow case.
- Inexpensive towels and washcloths. I color coordinate sheets and towels to make it easier for my children to keep up with. I also by cheap because they are kids and this stuff gets DIRTY!
- Combo shampoo/body wash. Easier for them to use and less that they have to carry to the shower.
- Pre-stamped postcards from the Post Office. My kids are not big writers and this guarantees I will at least get a couple of lines home.
- Shorts, t-shirts and swimsuits from Target and Wal-Mart. You don’t want to spend a fortune on this stuff and it gets very dirtyso if something needs to be thrown away, no big deal.
- My secret little tip, until recently my son still slept with his favorite blankie but did not want friends to know that he did. For camp, I fold it inside his pillowcase so that he knows where it is but it can’t be seen.
- Plastic storage bin, after camp store all sheets, towels and camp related gear in the bin. Tuck away in the attic or closet shelf until next summer.
This is the same approach I take for my son who attends camp for 4 weeks and this is his 4th year of camp. Each year it gets easier and I have learned that if I am relaxed with the process they are more relaxed about drop off at camp.
Onto the beach
It is never easy to play host to extended family especially when you are dealing with extra kids and adults. I will admit that I have some control issues. I like for everyone to have a good time, have all their needs met, keep the house in order, get to bed on time, etc. Obviously this doesn’t always work on vacation and in many cases I have come home and felt like I needed another vacation.
After a couple of days on this trip, the light bulb came on – the fun starts with me. I let it all go, decided to have fun, participate and goof off with the kids. If they are having a great time, dinner can be a little late, bed time can be a little later and instead of working so hard to try to make everyone else happy, I can join in the fun as well.
I got in the water, splashed with the kids, spent time really talking to my parents, pulled my daughters and nieces in a raft, watched my son and nephew surf, taught my niece to hunt for sharks teeth, all with a big silly grin on my face. But the biggest test was to come.
The week was ending and time for the all important family photo’s on the beach. I am usually screaming at the kids, asking for God’s help, bribing them with cash and candy all for just a little cooperation with the pictures. This time, I was handling it ok but my mom was going nuts, she had 6 of her grandchildren together and by golly she was going to get a good picture! She was trying very hard to get a good shot of my young niece who loves being in the water and did not want to sit or stand on the shore for the picture. In a moment of clarity I told my mom to take the picture of what Emily was giving us, her joy of being in the water. Join her in the water and snap away. The pictures of her ended up being the best because they captured her joy and we got to participate in that.
The lesson – Sometimes you just need to take what they give you and be happy that you get to be there to enjoy it.