“It’s Off to Camp With Me!”

Aviva the morning of camp, in her words:
excited and nervous.
And in mine: stoic, brave, focused, composed.

Packed and repacked four times,
clothes labeled,
new sheets and socks,
bug spray and sunscreen,
two sheets of “go green” stamps,
stationary and crocks,
rainboots, pillow.

After lunch,
Pearl told her, “You’ll do great at camp!”
I said that was such nice encouragement.
“What’s encouragement?” Pearl asked.
“It’s when you give someone…”
“Power,” Aviva finished.

Later, the slightest of hugs from Pearl,
greeted as “Little Man” by a counselor,
perched high on her Dada’s shoulders.

A long, quiet goodbye hug,
no words from her,
but her body pressed hard against me,
lingering, reluctant but ready.

Yoni, the camp director, carrying
Kanani, the American Girl doll
she left in my backseat,
and wearing her forgotten hat
over his own.

Exuberant young counselors in green tees
and name tags
welcoming the new campers.
Singing, drumming, cold plums, ice water.
Tussman, her bunk: “Welcome Home.”

Two signs on the bathroom mirrors:
“Don’t forget to smile at yourself,” and
“Your beauty is inside of you.”

And two cards taped up in the younger boys’ bunk:
“We don’t remember days, we remember moments,” and
“Friends are like stars–there even when you can’t see them.”

In a few weeks, she will have stories,
memories, friends and so many moments of her own.

I’ve already sent two letters.

Neither of us clung or cried.
(Well, I cried a little.)

She slept on the way to Cold Spring, NY
in Greg’s car,
while Pearl and I chatted about kindergarten
and counted red flags poking up
on rural mailboxes.

“It’s off to camp with me!”
Aviva emailed her 2nd grade teacher
in the morning.

I told her a dozen times to write me anything and everything.

I watched her standing by the zipline
after we parted,
comparing name tags with another girl.

I caught her eye as I drove away.
Won’t hear her voice for three and half weeks.

I know she knows
she is so, so loved.
My strong girl,
growing up.

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4 thoughts on ““It’s Off to Camp With Me!”

  1. Lindsey says:

    Oh, love to you both … I dropped my Grace off last week for her first time at camp – miss her a lot but just as you say, I know she knows she is loved, and I also know she will have an amazing experience. xoxo

    Like

  2. Tanya says:

    My favorite line…encouragement is when you give someone “power.” From the mouths of wise young people…I hope she’s ok with me borrowing that to teach my students. It’s a beautiful sentiment! (Thanks for the birthday wish!)

    Like

  3. Kristin Noelle says:

    I love this so much! And as a California girl who never went to camp for more than a week, I’m fascinated by this month-long idea. Is this what camp is in most of our country? At what age does it usually start?

    Like

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