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Opinion: Send Me to Summer Camp. Please?

Canoes on lake
File photo

I’m looking for a summer camp that caters to women over 30 with no athletic abilities, a place where hard-working ladies can get away from the office, away from the laundry, away from the junk mail. I want to leave my car behind. I want a team of attentive, enthusiastic people pointing me to the dining hall and to the meeting spot for the nature walk.

Last fall, my husband and I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time, and we stayed in a lodge, which was actually a series of motel-like structures scattered about the park. While we were there, park officials led us on astronomy walks and taught us about birds. Nobody was rushing from work or to the mall. Returning from dinner, meandering along the Canyon’s rim and cutting through patches of woods with a flashlight in hand, I thought, this must be what camp feels like. But I don’t know.

I never went to camp as a child.

Oh, stop sniffling. It’s not like I had to go to summer school or work in a coal mine. I had books, a bike, and a little brother. I had trees to climb and wildflowers to pick. But I completed my share of household chores, and I was dragged to the grocery store more often than I could stand.

So if you must, shed one tear–just one–for the tedium I sustained in my stable, loving home. Hey, even the most comfortable child needs a little break from such domestic doldrums.

I wonder what it’s like to arrive at camp as a child. It must be an extended party, a time and place of organized wildness. At camp, adults encourage children to play–and not under the vague orders to “Go outside and play. You’re getting in my way.”

Even the most creative and resourceful child can’t set up the multitude of activities that are available at camp. She can’t know the wild abandon and adventure that must come from crawling into a bunk bed in a mosquito-infested cabin after a night of campfire stories under the stars.

Perhaps–make that definitely–there’s no summer camp for me now. I’m just a cautionary tale for parents who are on the fence about whether to send their kids to a summer camp.

And I need a vacation.

Canoes on lake

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