Another school year has come to an end! We spent this third-grade year meeting challenges head on, supporting you through failures, and basking in your successes. As we continue along on your educational journey, we expect that each year will bring its new tests and trials. You continue to meet these obstacles with grit and grace, and this year was no exception. You complete the school year with the same continued happiness and self-confidence with which it began. This has always been the only goal daddy and I have ever had for you and we are unceasingly in awe of the hard work and dedication you put in every minute of every day.
Tomorrow you leave for your first summer at sleepaway camp. A new chapter in your life and a new opportunity for growth will present itself. Your absence in this house will be a huge adjustment for all of us. I am so excited to watch you fly free, but I am also incredibly terrified to take this momentous leap.
Daddy and I both have such fond memories of our time at sleepaway camp and we so badly wanted that for you. We weren’t sure it would happen. However, we took the time to find the right camp for you, one that would support your needs but also provide you with a typical and complete sleep away camp experience. We are thrilled that you will get to participate in this incredible rite of passage.
Sleepaway camp is going to be like nowhere you have ever been before. You will have a unique opportunity and I don’t want you to miss out. There are such high expectations placed on you in the classroom, you always have to give 200% just to accomplish a small task. Camp will NOT be like this; it will be a place where you can let your guard down and be your most authentic self all of the time.
This summer, take some time do the following…
Leave your box behind and truly live outside of your comfort zone. Do things you didn’t think you could do. At least once a day, get involved in an activity that you wouldn’t have chosen to participate in at home. Camp is a place to explore new things in a safe and kid friendly environment. So, pick up that Gaga ball, get in that pit, and give yourself over with wild abandon to those activities you fear the most.
Relax. There are no tests here, no behavior charts, and no assignments due. No one is demanding your full attention or checking over your shoulder to see if you completed your “must do” work. There are no unwanted pressures placed on your cognitive and mental load. Let down your proverbial hair and just have fun.
Befriend someone wholeheartedly different from yourself. You will have a chance to live with a variety of boys for an entire month. If you allow it, you will get to know these other kids at their core. It will no longer be about the superficiality of who is “sporty” versus who likes to play video games, it will be about who they truly are on the inside. You will find that you have more in common with the vast majority of these boys than you had originally thought. Camp bonds are deeply rooted and lifelong, these friends don’t go home at the end of the day, they go to sleep right next to you night after night.
Grow up, dad and I won’t be there for you. It’s time to reduce your dependence on the adults around you for every little thing and learn to problem solve on your own. You will be expected to make your bed, clean your bunk, brush your teeth, and finish your meals without our encouraging words and support. The decision on what activity you choose to participate in that day or if you go out in a rainstorm in just a t-shirt and flip flops will be yours and yours alone. You will have some adult assistance and guidance, but this will be your first real foray into maturity and independence. Don’t waste it.
Break your addiction to technology. You will be encircled by mother nature, grow to love her again. Take the time to connect with the people and the beauty that surround you. Sit by the lake and write a letter, lounge on the stairs of the bunk and laugh with friends, play cards, do Mad Libs, take a walk, read a book. Do anything that doesn’t involve a screen.
Be yourself. At camp, you get to be just who you are without any additional expectations. You’re not a student, a classmate, a brother, or a son. You’re not the kid that’s terrible at kickball, or the one who distracts the other students in class. You’re not the fun friend that’s sought out to make the other’s laugh or the one who likes to help his peers with math. You’re not a lover of EDM or hater of Fortnite. You’re not the kid who has ADHD. You’re just Man.
I know you will have a wonderful time at camp. I promise, if you let it, it will be the start of a wonderful tradition. You will come home and begin to count the days until you can return. You will grow and thrive and return to us a new Man.