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Go Ask Mom

Fayette-Mom: Ready for sleepaway camp?

Posted August 4, 2014

Jennifer Joyner

— Is going to sleepaway camp as a child a rite of passage?

I was surprised last week when my husband casually made that remark. You see, I never went away to camp, and so far, my kids haven’t either. Camp, at least in my mind, is the thing that other people do. It looks cool, and I love seeing the pictures, but it’s not really for me.

Except, my kids are not me.

My husband grew up going on lots of camping trips, sleeping in tents, sitting by campfires. He and my son enjoy several camping trips a year, so I suppose a natural next step would be for Eli to go off to camp on his own.

And Emma would love the social aspects of camp: making new friends, sleeping in bunks, getting mail from home.

Yes, it all sounds well and good, except for one small thing: My babies!

Not being able to talk to my child for a week, possibly two? Searching for hidden meanings in their letters home? Looking for signs of trouble in the photos the counselors email to parents?

The thought really does make me ill.

And I know it’s ridiculous — I know I should be slowly preparing myself to let them go off on their own for good someday. I mean, what am I going to do, live in an RV in the parking lot of their college dorm one day?

No, that thought hasn’t occurred to me. At all.

I don’t want to deprive my kids of fun, and if I’m being honest, I think they both would enjoy going away for camp.

I just want to know how in the world I would survive it.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. She writes about motherhood and family-friendly activities in Fayetteville.


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  • nor98 Aug 7, 2014

    Mine did her first week away at camp this summer and loved every minute of it. Yes, it was hard to leave her there but I am so proud that we have raised her to have the confidence to go away to camp, make new friends and try new things.
    As a mom, I worried the first few days--did we pack enough? what if someone is mean to her? what if she is homesick? I worried for nothing because next year she wants to stay 2 weeks and she still hasn't stopped singing camp songs!

  • btneast Aug 6, 2014

    It's definitely harder on the mom than the kid Yes, I know. Mom's are there to provide a safe , nurturing environment.....sometimes they get carried away though. Part of our job as a parent is to teach them to leave the nest and build their own nest. You can't wait till they are 22 to start that. What woman wants to marry a guy who can't do anything without running it by his Mom first?

  • JAT Aug 6, 2014

    It's definitely harder on the mom than the kid. Mine just got back from a 3-week camp for the 2nd year and would have stayed the whole summer if she could have. But the hug you get when you return to pick them up is worth every moment you spent worrying!

  • btneast Aug 5, 2014

    The best way to transition into camp weeks is letting them stay overnight with relatives, usually grandparents. Have to start that early in their life, so that staying overnight somewhere other than home is not a foreign concept. Otherwise, your child will be underfoot way into adulthood. Learning to live away from mommy and build their own life is our ultimate goal as a parent. It has to start early.