I had a lot of dreams and goals for my kids when I sent them to camp. They are both so comfortable in their own skin, I wanted a place that would continue to make them feel like that when they were in the middle of mean girl/middle school stuff. I wanted them to have those friendships that ran so deep, you can barely stand to be apart from each other. I wanted them to read by flashlight, not care when their feet touched the bottom of the lake, feel like I did when they celebrated Shabbat under the trees.
I wanted them to be part of a community that was their own (living in the same town and going to the same temple where their father and I grew up … I am imagining it can get a little old). Learn how to make decisions and deal with the consequences when I am not there to help put the pieces back together. One thing I never thought about was how their relationship as sisters would grow.
Over the past three summers, they have embarked on the incredible journey of camp and as my younger daughter has joined my older daughter, I have seen an incredible level of friendship and sisterhood develop between the two. Camp strengthening their relationship just wasn’t on my neat little check-off list of things to talk to a camp director about. Yet, it has been an incredible thing to watch.
I have been very careful not to tell my older daughter to check-up on her sister, especially the first year or so. I hadn’t wanted to put the pressure on her or make her responsible for her sister’s good time. They are very close at home. Not telling secrets in the dark (though I think that will come), but happy to cheer each other on at softball and soccer games, be each other’s favorite playmate and genuinely miss each other when they spend the day apart. I mean, it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, they’ve got the fighting over clothes thing down pretty well and one is always making the other late for school. Though when I glanced at their camp cubbies, it was hard to tell who’s was who’s – even though they are a few bunks apart – the clothes seemed to be shared much happier here.
This is the first year they are both at camp for seven weeks so I was a little worried how we were going to give both of them the proper individual attention they needed at visiting day. Worry not necessary. They had sat together and planned the day for us – they even had a rain plan (which included lots of ice cream of course). They knew all about each other’s visits to the infirmary and bug bite care. The counselors told us how they check up on each other at every meal. As we were getting ready to leave visiting day, my nine-year-old had a mini-melt down – not ready to see the day end. As I comforted one, I overheard her big sister making a plan with the counselor so she could come put her to bed later that night.
I am excited for their return and to see the closeness that has developed over another three weeks. No one will understand the post-camp funk better than a real sister experiencing the same thing. They’ll come home speaking almost a different language filled with secret jokes and song lyrics. Last year, I almost felt like a stranger in my own home after they returned. Good thing I will have trunks full of laundry to keep me busy!