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Ashley L. Says it Well.

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Hey, Camp Fans!

We were please to receive somewhere around 30 entries for the ‘Share Your Camp Story’ Contest we put on here at Everything Summer Camp. And now we’re eager to share each one right here on the Blog! After seven lucky winners of larger prizes, all other submissions got a $15 gift certificate to our online shop! Today’s post is from Ashley L., who wrote in to tell us about her experience saying goodbye to her daughter for her weeklong camp stay at Gwynn Valley. Check out Anna's camp place.

Driving through the windy, mountainous roads of North Carolina, the Ramona the Pest audio book was barely audible over the constant chatter of my overzealous nine-year-old. Even though this is her third year to go to ‘sleep away’ camp, she still anticipates the first day of camp with the same fervor as a child waiting endlessly for Santa on Christmas Eve. ‘Who will be in my cabin?’ ‘Will my friends be there from last year?’ ‘I hope my favorite pottery counselor comes back!’ Anna fired off questions like she shoots arrows in archery – fast and spot on.

We arrive at camp to horses at pasture, the mountains framing the scene. As we pull into the camp parking lot, counselors are greeting everyone and helping to unload van after van. One child has a giant suitcase that drags across the gravel parking lot before the counselors swoop in to help. One of the best purchases I made years ago was to invest in a sturdy trunk, a blue one with handles on the side, now covered with bumper stickers announcing places that have been visited. Although our trunk was definitely heavy, it was easily lifted and carried to Babbling Brook, the cabin where other giddy nine-year olds were waiting to meet the other new arrivals.

Anna’s excitement was palpable while my sadness was bottled up – for the time being. ‘Put on a brave face,’ I tell myself. You see, my daughter has a severe nut allergy, and letting her out of my sight is tough. I trust my daughter and I trust this camp to keep her safe. The truth is that I will miss my daughter each and every day that she is away.
Meanwhile, my anxiety grows. As I walk back to the car, I am a little giddy. A week to myself?!! Yippee! What am I going to do? I reach the end of the camp driveway, look back at the horses at bay, and my mood slowly changes. My short-lived enthusiasm waned as I sadly repeated, ‘What am I going to do with a week to myself?’

Four o’clock every afternoon, I check the camp website for pictures. By the sixth day of camp, there are only 10 pictures of my daughter. Wait a minute. Out of 500 pictures, there are only 10 of my daughter? Maybe she’s so busy that they cannot catch her to take her picture.

Finally day 7—pick up day. It turns out that my daughter really was so busy that I am amazed that the camp was able to get as many pictures of her as they did! Anna tried basket weaving, tree climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, yoga, pottery, bracelet-making, and on and on. All handmade artifacts were carefully packed in her trunk and organized in her special trunk organizer. Brimming with excitement as she saw her father and me enter her cabin, she began the same chatter that happened when we dropped her off. ‘Look what I did. Come see this. This is Beth, Sally, and Laura. I climbed this enormous tree!”

After all of the good-byes were said and a few tears were shed, back in the car we went for the long ride home. Ramona the Pest was playing loud and clear, and as I looked to the back to gaze at my sweet girl that I had missed terribly, she is sound asleep, dreaming of the next summer at camp. And the countdown to camp begins.

A week can feel like a long time, Ashley! Glad you made it through! I’m sure it all feels worth it now. I hope Anna’s future camp stays can go a little easier on you. On the flip side, it sounds like Anna had an awesome time at camp! You can check out Gwynn Valley for yourself right here and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John


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