Last summer I joined an incredible group of women on a journey that I’ll never forget. I was lucky enough to learn about a new program at YMCA’s Camp Harrison, the Mom on the Mountain Program, also known as M.O.M. When I announced to my friends that I was going to camp with my kids, they looked at me like I was seriously losing it. The common response: “Jen, moms typically send their kids to camp to have a break, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!” I have to admit, it sounded a little nutty at first. But something inside of me told me that this was what I was called to do.
So last July, I packed up my four kids and we headed off for our very first sleep away camp experience, mine included. Lucky for me, the other two moms were familiar faces at my school, we knew each other but not well. Let me tell ya, after 7 days of spending 24/7 together with over 200 campers, we got to know each other extremely well! The cool thing was, we grew really close over those 7 days. You would have thought that we would have gotten on each others’ nerves. Not at all! I can honestly say that I had my own camp bonding experience with these ladies (love ya Jenn & Val!) and I hold a special place in my heart for them. Just like my children did with their new camp friends.
Moving on to the campers. This was by far my favorite volunteer role that I have ever done. The main rule as a M.O.M. is that you cannot favor your own children, in fact, I’m pretty sure you’ll get shipped home if you do so. So you have to prep your children that you are there as Camp Mom for all of the campers, not just yours. Our role is to do what we do best, just be a mom. Some kids get a little homesick the first few days, so they like having a Camp Mom around. Our primary role is to take as many photos as possible so the moms and dads at home can see their children every day. That was right up my alley, I pretended I was the paparazzi! My pink and green Smarty car gave us a little extra cool factor – the kids could see us driving up from a mile away and they knew we always packed something fun in our bags of tricks. We would bake treats for the cabins and deliver while they were out and about. We ate meals with our assigned cabins and even participated in camp activities. The kids really loved to see us taking risks on the ropes course – the zip line was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done in my life (I’m not all that into high speeds and heights). I loved it and hated it all in one fell swoop! And the kids really loved hearing us scream all the way down – three moms out of control on a zip line and giant swing. My personal favorite was during afternoon rest time, we took out the paddle boards and had our own relaxation down time.
One of the most impressive things for me was to get to know the counselors and staff at Camp Harrison. Many of the counselors grew up going to CH. And they grew in their faith on that mountain year after year and they all share a special bond with each other. It shines through in everything they do. They thread prayer and worship throughout the day in all of the activities. We are Catholic and I think it is so special for my children to be exposed to prayer in a very different way. They had so much fun with Grant and the spiritual leaders that my kids declared that he should come lead our worship back in Charlotte!
The journey for me was amazing. I signed up to do this again this summer and plan to continue for as long as my kids will allow me there. I know there will be a time in the very near future that they’ll want me to sit this one out. I’ll watch for the clues and will know that my time as M.O.M. will come to an end. And it will be time to pass the torch. Camp Harrison is in my blood!
Camp Harrison M.O.M. info:
-This is a great way to send your children to camp at a significantly reduced cost.
-There are plenty of M.O.M. weeks with openings. Contact Lisa Eller at Camp Harrison for dates and costs.
Camp Harrison Spring Events in Charlotte:
-Open House @ Siskey YMCA – 4/7 from 1-4p. Click here for details.
-May Mountain Madness FREE event at Camp Harrison – 5/5 from 11a-4p. Experience Camp Harrison in it’s entirety on the CH property. Click here for details.
P.S. Congrats to Kathie Harper, she won the Charlotte Smarty Pants free week of traditional camp at Camp Harrison!
That sounds awesome! Sometimes it’s good to get away, even if that means a different form of work and stress….and a lake never hurt anything 🙂
As one of the other MOMs with Jen last year, all I can say is “ditto”. It was one of the most fun weeks of my life and I told my daughters that I would continue to be a MOM as long as they want me there. It was great to get to know all of the new campers, get to know my daughters’ friends even better than I already did before camp, and help some of the homesick campers power through (and power through they did!).
I think of it as the best parts of being a MOM – hanging with the kiddos, taking pictures, eating together, giving hugs, all while someone else cooked for me! Camp Harrison is a very special place and it is great to be a part of it. And getting to know Jen and Valerie better was an added bonus! I miss my camp buddies! 🙂
Ladies – much applause for being such great role models and for letting other mom’s know of this wonderful opportunity to give, share & receive! Going to look into Camp Harrison M.O.M. program!