Overnight Summer Camp As Empty Nest Training

For some parents it’s liberating, for others terrifying, but either way overnight summer camp readies every parent for an empty nest. If your son or daughter is just in elementary school, this might be a difficult thing to hear, but every parent knows, deep down, that leaving home is an inevitable part of raising children. They might not like to remember it, but they know it, and camp can be a good time to prepare them for the sensation of a house without kids.

Caring for newborns can feel interminable: endless nights of insufficient sleep, imagining you’ll be changing diapers and spoon-feeding forever. Once that passes, though, time can fly. Preschool and kindergarten flash by in an instant; grades seem to last just a month. After pottytraining, parenthood sometimes feels like careening down a highway, with high school (or college) graduation standing as a brick wall in the middle of the road. So: it’s natural to suppress and ignore the inevitable, but having your kids go to an overnight summer camp makes the inevitable a bit less painful.

Some people would argue you never control your kids at all, but everyone agrees you can’t control them forever. That’s certainly the case with overnight summer camp: the things they eat, the friends they make, the thoroughness of their hygiene. It’s a time where they really have to fend for themselves, and you just have to let go. That’s hard, but the peace comes from seeing them return, alive, all fingers and most clothes accounted for. It’s the relief every parent needs, because it’s probably the cause of most empty nest anxiety. Of course it’s hard to let go, to know your son or daughter won’t be trooping into the kitchen every morning, but they’ll be okay. They might not shower as much as they should, but they’ll survive—at camp, and in life.

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