It's the last day of summer camp.
I can't begin to find words for how much fun my kids have had at the YMCA Summer Camps. It's been so great for them to have days filled with play and freedom from the rules and expectations of school and home.
Teagan has done cheer, tumble, and dance camps. She loved her time in the regular camp for her age group (called Mega)- especially the hikes through the woods and creek stomping. She did a theatre camp and was part of a mini-production of "Annie." She did a week of cooking camp. She has learned about different countries, she has found amazing role models in the camp counselors, and she has grown a lot in the past few months.
It hasn't been easy. She wants to impress the people at camp and she wants to be liked and loved and popular. So when she's stressed, tired, anxious- she lets it out at home. So we certainly haven't been without our struggles.
Zach has been in the Micro camp for most of the summer. He spent one week back at this school's camp. However, our town has been inundated with construction and driving him across town (just 5 miles) has proven to add at least 30 minutes to the morning commute and again to the evening commute. We opted to take the other 2 weeks he was supposed to go back and switch him to the YMCA Camp and he was thrilled.
I think he's going to have a hard transition back to school. I think having rules, expectations, and a schedule is going to be a hard adjustment. It's not that he's just been running wild at this camp. There are rules, there are expectations, there is a regular schedule. But the counselors are big playmates and not teachers, not disciplinarians, not parents. He's gotten in trouble once, maybe twice. At least that they've caught him. He's enjoyed the freedom of being with a group that isn't so connected to his family. At school, his teachers and the school's owner know our family and how we operate well. At church, his Sunday School teachers know us quite well. He likes to be "creative" and "imaginative" in his responses and conversation. The YMCA people wouldn't know that he was telling a Tall Tale.
He's an amazingly creative kid. I love watching him take a simple project and turn it into something bigger than we'd planned. Where Teagan would lie to get someone else in trouble or to protect herself from getting in trouble, Zach's lying is usually more playful, more about just telling a story. It's still lying and we still address it. But he's had a summer where I'm pretty certain he's built up a certain world for camp that no one can call him on.
Today is the end of summer for my kids. Something the camps have done is give "paper plate awards" to the kids at the end of the week. My kids have brought home plates decorated by their counselor for the week. They are paper plates decorated by hand with markers. "Best Smile" and "Best Listener" and so on. Teagan wanted to make her own paper plates as a goodbye gift for her counselors. We bought some colorful plates and stickers and had some foam hands to use. We decided what her plates should say ("Thank you for a great summer! Love, Teagan") and what Zach's plates would say ("Thank you! Zach"). Then the kids got glue and sharpies and were pretty much on their own to make the plates.
Today is the end of summer for my kids. They are hugging and saying goodbye today. Zach didn't want to face the day. Zach didn't want me to leave at drop off and I think it's because he doesn't know how to handle this kind of goodbye that has so much finality to it. There is no future plan to see any of these kids or counselors going forward. It's a true Good Bye. Teagan is eager for hugs and her final cheer performances. There will be tears, I think, at the end. Where Zach is already expressing some concern about going back to school, Teagan is eager to find out who her teacher is, what friends are in her class, and to get the school year started.
Today is the end of summer for my kids. We have some last hurrahs planned- the weekend is wide open for us, I took Monday and Tuesday off so the kids and I can make trips to the Indiana State Fair both days (there is no better farewell to summer!). But this is it. Summer is over and we are facing the start of our school year routine.
It's been a great summer. Better than I had imagined it would be, honestly. And I think the entire family is already eagerly looking forward to next summer!