It starts with daycare or pre-school or kindergarten…those early experiences away from home. Even though they are for just a few hours at a time, they come with anxiety and often tears. But quickly those precious little minds learn that it’s going to be OK. They make new friends and have great adventures.
However, the first big experience away from Mom and Dad is usually camp. Facing a week of uncertainty, our kids are often reluctant when it comes to overnight camp. They are anxious alright, but this time its a bigger deal. The have to handle a completely different routine 24/7 and without your help. They have to eat different food and sleep in a cabin with a bunch of kids they’ve possibly never met. That first camp experience can be overwhelming. However, our children make new friends, gain confidence, and start to recognize that the rewards are often worth the risk when it comes to taking on new experiences.
At 18, our babies have to adjust once again. However, this time they are gone for months at a time and unlike every other experience, they are in charge of the routine. College brings back those same anxious feelings, leaving our kids longing for home. But, they adjust again and in the process learn volumes about themselves.
All of these experiences are important because they lay the foundation for the adversity we face as adults. Maybe you’ve lost a spouce or chose to get rid of one; maybe you’ve moved or changed jobs; maybe you’ve changed the direction of your life in some other significant way…whatever the challenge, you will be faced with anxiety…not unlike the anxiety you faced going off to camp. You will worry about how things will turn out. You will feel lonely and sometimes lost…but in the end, you will succeed because the foundation is there. You’ve dealt with other challenges. You believe in the possibilites.
So send your kids to camp…it prepares them for life.