Michelle Martin

Summer camp

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It’s been a quiet summer at home for the most part, which has its own joys: wading pools and beach days and hanging out at the park.

But this year, for the first time, Frank has experienced the joys of the traditional summer camp. Not hockey camp or sports camp, staying in a dorm and eating in a cafeteria and spending his days with boys who are as sports-obsessed as he is. This was plain old summer camp, sleeping in a cabin in the woods and swimming in a lake and playing pranks on other units.

He was hoping to get into a late-summer hockey camp when a friend from his school suggested that he go to the same camp she does; it had several slots open for boys, and was offering a last-minute discount. It also started three days after she first suggested it.

The session was for two weeks, but we told Frank he could only go for one because we had already committed to attend Packer Family Night the following Saturday at Lambeau Field with my mother, the person we blame for turning him into a Packer fan. Everything seemed to be working out fine, although since Frank had no access to his phone or email, we wondered how he was liking rustic life in the woods north of Kalamazoo, Mich.

We got our answer that Thursday, the day before his dad picked him up. The camp director called to, as she delicately put it, “clarify his travel plans.”

Apparently, he had been telling people that he intended to return for the second week of camp, which we had not planned — or paid — for.

That wasn’t our intention, I assured her, but if he really wanted to do it, and we could work out the logistics, we’d consider it.

So Frank got picked up at camp after dinner on a Friday, returned home to sleep in Chicago, made it to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., Saturday night, and was back at camp in time for breakfast Monday morning. The main advantages this gave him over his campmates appear to be a chance to do laundry and buy an inexpensive watch, since without his phone, he never knew what time it was. And he got to see his grandparents, and a truly impressive fireworks show at the end of the family night festivities.

The downside was that he missed Capture the Flag at camp Saturday night.

For us, the downside was enough driving to do the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. Twice. In two weeks.

I can’t begrudge Frank the time for that. His chance to get away from it all — including his laptop, his cell phone and even the ice rink — offered him a time to regroup before school starts, to meet new friends and master new challenges.

Recreation is supposed to be time to create yourself anew. I don’t expect Jesus ever went to summer camp, but he did sometimes leave his everyday life with all of its demands behind him, even when it wasn’t easy and people tried to follow him.

Somehow, I think that he would have approved of summer camp.


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