Overall, this summer has been far more than I had anticipated it would be – full of more genuine love and of worthwhile reward. Each one of our kids contributed something so special to the dynamic of our camp as well as to my own individual experience. Honestly, I may have learned more from my kids than I was able to teach them. There is so much I could say about my kids, they have all been individually challenging, strong and wonderful. I have been continuously awestruck by the resilience of our kids. They take on challenges that would strike grief into most adults and they prepare themselves to be able to weather it.
As wonderful and impressive as this strength and maturity is, it has shaped my view that this camp should be a place where neither of these characteristics are required. Most of these kids have already grown up and have experienced hardships beyond their years. Yet as much as I want to applaud them and their strength, I don’t think this is what they need – I think they need someone to tell them they don’t have to be strong all the time, someone to remind them that they’re kids and for 6 weeks to treat them as such. I have learned that kids of this caliber maybe don’t need a fostering of more resilience, rather they need a reminder and an opportunity to simply act their age.
Thus, throughout camp we tried to create an environment where our kids got to be kids, and watching this unfold has been the most fulfilling experience of my life. My kids were so quick to let their guards down, to let me know them and to thrive when we presented them with an environment where they didn’t need to be guarded. I know our camp couldn’t negate their struggles, but for 6 hours a day I like to think we at least lightened them. One of the hardest parts of this experience has not been making these connections with my kids and sharing in their struggles, but in leaving them to bear these burdens without me. It’s in these moments that I remind myself of the resilience that I have been in such awe of, that even though they shouldn’t have to be, they will weather it and be okay.