Julie Cole: The Baby Machine


Sending My Children to Summer Camp

They Were Ready, But Was I?

My two girls with Glen Bernard Camp Assistant Director, Megan

Most credit their best childhood memories to summer camp. Many report that it was during those few weeks every summer that they learned skills to last a lifetime and made long-term friendships. This winter, I had three kids begging to go to sleep-away camp. I did my research, understood the many benefits and knew they were ready. But was I?

I decided I wanted my kids to have a traditional camping experience. My feeling is that since I’ve never been to Club Med, they should not be going to a resort disguised as a “summer camp”. Another decision I made along the way was to send them to single-gendered camps.

Sending my 11, 10 and 8 year-olds off to summer camp was a big leap for me. The two girls had each other, so I was a little more worried about my son who would be sibling-less.

The day came for the girls to go to camp. At one point that morning I was hanging over the kitchen sink washing dishes with tears streaming down my face. I knew I had to keep it together – my girls needed to know that I had confidence that they would succeed at camp, and also that I would be just fine without them.

When we arrived at Glen Bernard Camp we were immediately greeted by Ontario camping legend, Jocelyn Palm, and her superstar Assistant Director, Megan. The camp is beautiful and my girls were quick to send me off so that they could get on with it. As I drove away, I was shocked and relieved with how amazing I felt.

A couple of days later came round two of goodbyes when my son went off to Camp Ponacka. This camp has a fun history – it is owned and directed by husband/wife team Anne and Don. Anne’s father founded the camp 65 years ago. Don went to Ponacka as a camper many years back with no idea that he’d meet the girl of his dreams at an all-boys camp!

What was remarkable about Anne and Don? They came to my house to meet my son months before camp started. Yes, they drove for hours to come to MY house and meet MY son. Don spent time chatting with him while Anne sat down with me and said “Now, tell me EVERYTHING about your son”. Yeah, at that point I actually had to pinch myself.

While my kids are basking in summer camp glory, I feel pretty accomplished myself. Not once did I find myself up a tree just outside of camp boundaries, wearing camos and spying through binoculars.