Here’s What Happened When We Sent Our Son to Sleepaway Camp

sleepaway campI didn’t know what to expect when I dropped my 11-year-old off at his first sleepaway camp. He, his cousin, and four soccer teammates spent a week away with zero communication back home. Not a text, call, email, or letter.

I had so many thoughts running through my head. Is he homesick? Is he having fun? Is he hydrating enough with the brutal heat wave been experiencing? Has he brushed his teeth? Is everyone in the cabin getting along? Did he slow dance with a girl?! All things I’d have to wait nearly a week to answer.

The camp was great about posting hundreds of photos to their Facebook page each night. We had a group parent text, and the minute new photos went up, the texts started with funny pictures and emojis. I lit up and went to bed happy seeing him smiling, playing games, hanging with his buddies, and making memories he’ll cherish for the rest of his life.

Here is what else happened while he was gone at sleepaway camp.

sleepaway campWe missed him badly. We wanted to tell him things, show him funny videos, ask him a question… gone was the comfort of knowing he is just a few rooms away if and when we needed him.

The house was eerily quiet without him. We also have a 4-year-old, but without the sound of the two of them wrestling, arguing, opening and closing doors, teasing the dog, etc., it was downright weird.

There was a lot less repeating myself. We didn’t have to ask five times to get off the computer. We didn’t have to argue about bedtime. We didn’t have to tell him dinner was ready multiple times.

We had to do his chores! Taking the trash out, walking and feeding the dog, emptying the dishwasher, getting the mail, etc.

We saved at least a tank of gas. There was no carting him across town to different camps, soccer practices, friends’ houses, etc. We also saved on groceries not having to provide 3–4 meals a day, plus snacks.

It was nice to clean his entire room for change. I took the liberty of cleaning his room, throwing away wrappers that were under the bed, getting rid of clothes that no longer fit, throwing away hole-y socks, organizing his books, storing away the things he doesn’t play with much anymore (Pokémon cards) cleaning his sheets, and more. I know it won’t stay this way, but I’m glad I had the chance to tidy it up.

We did a lot less laundry. The boy changes multiple times a day!

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I anxiously waited for the mail every day to see if I got a letter from camp. It never happened.

I had more free time, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I work full time, I’m a soccer mom, I stay active, have a toddler, and normally don’t sit down until it’s time for bed. I caught up on a few Netflix shows, took walks on the beach, and had dinner with some friends.

Upon pickup from camp, I had many of my questions answered… and learned a few first-timer lessons like the fact that I could send him daily emails (he couldn’t write back) and every other parent did this… except us!

The good news is, he had a blast! He talked the entire 90-minute ride home even though he was hoarse from all the raucous. His counselor was “epic.” The food was delicious. He made new friends (boys and girls). The midnight cookie raid was one of his favorite parts. And best of all, they had to share something good about their day and what they were thankful for daily.

Already looking forward to next summer’s sleepaway camp!

Boy mom. Household CEO. Corporate leader. Outdoor lover. Social seeker. Sun worshipper. Curious traveler. Champagne enthusiast. These words describe me, Kerry Schicker, and contributor for Jacksonville Mom. I first approached founders Vicky and Megan after a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I had a very unpleasant experience with my OB at the time and I needed to get it off my chest so I wrote an anonymous blog that resonated with some of our readers. I have since written dozens of blogs mostly about motherhood. I have a passion for writing. My 20-year career has grown through some form of writing including TV news reporting and producing, magazine publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, blogging and my current day job doing HR and employee communications for a Fortune 300 FinTech company. I am thankful that Jacksonville has such a supportive community for moms like me, and I can't imagine raising my two boys anywhere else.

5 COMMENTS

  1. We sent our boys, 13 & 15, this summer too. They came back saying it was “life changing.” They have a group chat with their cabin mates, have already planned to go back, and have both admitted that they realize how much they are missing out on by holding up in their rooms playing video games all day. Also, we didn’t know you could send emails either and got an earful from them when they got in the car at pick up, lol. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. We love this camp. My 13 year old just came back. This is her 3rd summer going. This was also my 8 year olds 2nd summer. They both love it and have so much fun.

  3. My son was in your sons cabin! He’s in one the photos posted. He STILL talks about the awesome cabin-mates he has last summer. He’s excited to return this summer for the 4th time.

  4. My 8 yo son just got back from his first time at sleep away camp and he had a blast! It was great for him to be independent from his siblings, he got to select the activities he wanted to participate in, he learned card games, capture thr flag, etc. It was great to allow him the freedom even though it was harder on us probably.

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