With three grandchildren in Tyler Hill Sleep Away Camp in Pennsylvania, visiting day arrived and with tears and joy I hugged them tightly.
The same weekend, my friend Linda DeSabato had invited me to her getaway in the Catskills near the camp and to see the concerts at Bethel Woods. It was a weekend with a perfect combination of love and friendship.
With my 10-year-old Blake and 8-year-olds Jonah and Morgan away for seven weeks, I was looking forward to seeing and hugging them in real life. The remarkable camp sends photos to their parents every day and so I’ve “seen” them smiling, laughing and singing (from videos sent), but there’s nothing compared to big hugs in person.
I know they are happy, but with my two kids being “rookies,” I wanted to see for myself that they were okay.
I had a few minutes alone with Jonah’s group leader and he shared with me that Jonah and his bunkmates had resisted being neat with their things and his bed-making skills were lacking.
When he told Jonah “we need your help,” Jonah became the leader and led his bunkmates in keeping the bunk neat. It was the same thing with going to activities. He had resisted. His counselor shared with me, “I told him we needed him to win!” Sure enough, he was off and led his group. Leadership is in his DNA.
Then I visited Blake’s bunk and met his “Friendship Coach” (counselor). It’s a brilliant designation of what was an assistant group leader.
When I asked Blake what a Friendship Coach was, he simply said, “Oh. He helped me have the courage to enter and perform in the talent show.” I said, “I see you are water skiing this summer. Did he help you get over your fright?” “He sure did, Grandma!” he replied with a big smile!
I was so impressed. With life being complicated, and many kids with divorced or dead parents, there is this person who is part of the group that offers counseling seamlessly in a totally non-threatening way, and so sensitively. It wowed me!
As a grandparent, I had to arrive an hour after my daughters and then leave an hour before them. So, when I texted my daughters to ask, “How were your goodbyes?” I felt my heart soar when Elizabeth reported, “Jonah said, ‘Mom, isn’t it time to go?’”‘ No tears were shed by him or his cousins. I felt tears well up in my eyes as I saw how relaxed and joyous the kids were. It was hard for me to leave.
A successful summer is in the making!