Happy Halloween, Bauercrest families!
I’d like to begin by saying that I wanted to write this blog post the week camp ended, while it was all still fresh in my mind. However, when I asked permission (a step I’ll admit I often skip altogether), I was met with vehement opposition. But in recent weeks, I asked again. This time, I got the green light. For better or worse, it is all just as fresh in my mind. So here goes…
With three days left of camp, on one of the hottest nights of the summer, I sat on the sidelines of Senior A Euro with my son Max, wondering how it could possibly get any better than this. Until suddenly, out of nowhere, he started to cry. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he just didn’t feel well. Oh, and that he didn’t like camp anymore.
As I tried to process this information, my head began to spin. Who’d said what to him? What Color War event had his team just lost? Why was he wearing those psychedelic lacrosse shorts again? Homesickness was a stretch for obvious reasons. I pressed and pressed, but I could barely get him to formulate a sentence, never mind explain the inner workings of his 10-year-old brain. Weepy and frustrated, he asked to spend the night in the infirmary. Of course! Why hadn’t I thought of that? He just needed a good night’s sleep and a little air conditioning!
In the mess hall the next morning, he seemed better. But by the end of the day, he was even more of a hot mess. And still wearing those lacrosse shorts. This wasn’t good. His counselors and friends had no idea what was going on with him. And then there was me… not just the Camp Mom, but his mom… at a total loss. Defeated and exhausted, he ended up sleeping in the infirmary again. Yup… Mother of the Year.
The next morning, three of our staffers celebrated their Bar Mitzvahs in front of the entire camp. A Bauercrest Bar Mitzvah doesn’t happen after 13 years of life; it happens after 13 years on the Hillside. It’s a truly beautiful rite of passage. Hearing these boys speak about what camp has meant to them, while witnessing firsthand what these boys have meant to camp, literally takes your breath away.
By the end of the ceremony, Max blended right into the crowd with his bloodshot eyes and tear-streaked cheeks. But he’d been pushed to his emotional limit. And there, in the midst of all that love and truth and spirituality, he was finally able to say it out loud:
“I can’t do the last night of camp.”
And that’s when it hit me like a ChillZone. He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t sick. He was sad. Horribly, uncontrollably, debilitatingly sad. And still wearing the same lacrosse shorts.
If I’m being honest, I do have some concerns here. I have one son who cried so hard for so many hours when camp ended last summer (see “Re-Entry” blog post) that he gave himself a corneal abrasion. Then this past summer, my other son— the even-keeled, everything-is-awesome son— made himself so sick because he didn’t want camp to end that he forced the end to come three days earlier for him that it did for everyone else.
Bright side: My kids clearly love camp. A LOT.
Dark side: Camp ends. It will always end.
So what do we do with that? I’ve put a lot of thought into this, and I’ve only come up with one answer: Put everything we have into making those seven weeks the most meaningful, indescribable, crazy fun seven weeks of the year. I can assure you that Ken, our new director, will work tirelessly to make all this and more happen for our children. And for our camp. I know this because I watched Ken on the Hillside, surrounded by a handful of kids who couldn’t believe they had the privilege of being back– if only for an afternoon– and there was no question… he felt it, too.
What your child gets from a summer, a childhood, a lifetime at Bauercrest, really is indescribable. But I think even the most discriminating camper will agree that this video is a pretty close second to actually being there. Do not be surprised if your son needs to watch it multiple times. Today. And then every day until June 29th.
Great news… there’s less than a month until the Reunion (Saturday, November 26th at Union Street in Newton from noon to 4pm), when we can all watch it together on the big screen.
(Thank you, Perlow Productions, for capturing what we on the Hillside can never seem to be able to fully explain in words.)