day camp · slice of life

‘Twas the Night Before Day Camp

“Have you gotten any writing done since you got home from the conference?” my husband inquired last night.

I smirked. “Barely! Isabelle only had two school days left after the conference. I’ve had almost no time to myself for over a month. Not that that’s been a bad thing. We’ve had fun, but I have hardly had any time to work on the revisions for my manuscript.”

“Well, at least you’ll have time starting Monday,” Marc said.

“I sure will! Five days a week should be plenty of time to get revisions done and to start on some new writing,” I replied.

Starting tomorrow, Isabelle heads off to day camp for the next four weeks. That’s five days a week for six-and-a-half hours a day. I NEED this time to devote to my writing. However, I’d be lying if I said I’m comfortable about sending her off to day camp tomorrow.

Let’s be honest. I’m worried.

Preschool didn’t have me this concerned. I knew she’d be taken care of by capable teachers.

But day camp is another thing. Day camp is a huge adjustment for any kid. (Maybe that’s why my parents didn’t send me to day camp until I was seven. Hmmm…) There are sunscreen and bug spray she needs have applied. There are swimsuits she needs to be changed into and out of. There are personal belongings she needs to keep track of. There’s staying safe at free swim! All of these are things I’ve either overseen or helped to take care of for the past five-and-a-half years. And tomorrow, my kiddo is on her own. (Yes, I know there are counselors, but they’re teenagers in charge of 15 five-year-olds!)

This afternoon, I spent the day doing what I do best when I am nervous about something. I get organized.

I laid out Isabelle’s clothes. (Normally she picks what she wears, but tomorrow is picture day so I chose.)


I took her on a tour of her backpack so she’d know what she was taking to camp. I explained how she was to get dressed and undressed for swimming. (Sit on a towel, not the ground. Place wet bathing suits into a Ziploc when finished. Let me know if I need to send two towels in the future since tomorrow I’m only sending one.) I showed her a laminated picture chart of the items she was to bring home with her. (She is a people-watcher who will be more interested in what other kids are doing than in packing herself up at the end of the day.)


I pulled her curls into a tight slop-knot tonight so it would be easier for me to put her hair into a ponytail tomorrow. (She was shocked the counselors wouldn’t be willing to remove her bow, which she always wears, and tie her hair up in a ponytail prior to swim.)


I made her lunch.

She requested half of a tuna sandwich for tomorrow. (BTW: She rarely eats tuna fish. That said, I complied with her odd request.)
She requested half of a tuna sandwich for tomorrow. (BTW: She rarely eats tuna fish. That said, I complied with her odd request.)

I even put her socks in her sneakers.


And yet, I am still worried. Thankfully, she seems as cool as a cucumber. (I guess that is good. Either it means I’m doing a good job hiding my nerves or she’s oblivious to how much she’s going to have to do on her own!)

I know she will be less than ten minutes away. She will be fine.

And I will be fine too. Perhaps more than fine. Maybe by Tuesday, I’ll even be productive.

—-Updated at 5:00 p.m. on 7/18.—-

Isabelle had a great day at camp! She came home with all of her belongings (Thanks to the help of one of her counselors!) and ate nearly all of her lunch.

Proof of what was eaten! (BTW: I knew she wouldn't eat the tuna sandwich.)
Proof of what was eaten!
(BTW: I knew she wouldn’t eat the tuna sandwich.)
I'm going with a lunch I know she'll eat tomorrow: YOGURT!
I’m going with a lunch I know she’ll eat tomorrow: YOGURT!

I nearly had a heart attack on the car ride home when Isabelle told me she jumped in a bounce house — after some coaxing from adults — when it rained this afternoon. (We’re a no-bounce house family since they’re one of the leading causes of emergency room visits for American children.) She knew she wasn’t supposed to do it, but she told me, “I was careful.” While I appreciated how careful she was, I reminded her that she didn’t want to spend her summer in a cast (or in a cast after having surgery) so I asked her not to go in it again. Even though she promised she’d be careful, I ended the conversation by asking, “If you get hurt in a bounce house and land up in a cast, whose fault will it be?”

Even though she promised she’d be careful, I ended the conversation by asking, “If you get hurt in a bounce house and land up in a cast, whose fault will it be?”

To which Isabelle responded, “Mine.”

Hopefully, she’ll make a smart decision. But just in case, I emailed the head of the camp to ask that the counselors redirect her to another activity the next time the bounce house is a choice. I already received an email back stating: Not a problem – I will speak to the staff

Not a problem – I will speak to the staff tomorrow and let them know to direct Isabelle to another area in the play room. Whew!


Other than that, it was a great day!



22 thoughts on “‘Twas the Night Before Day Camp

  1. Firsts are not easy, for moms and kids. I know from my own kids and from watching the two grand-girls. Ingrid is always in a tizzy, but does great after the first day. Imogene is not a worrier, has gripes after, but still is willing to keep trying. Your Isabelle is so smart; she’ll do great, & I hope you have lots of productive time & some fun, too while she’s at her camp.

    1. Thanks for your insight, Linda!
      It’ll be interesting to see what happens when she gets home. I know the schedule so it’ll be interesting to hear what she shares (or doesn’t) about the day.

      1. Glad to see that added piece, & glad it went ok, & you got a response about the bounce house. She’ll just keep growing in the decisions I bet. Funny about the tuna. We can never guess why kids choose things, can we?

  2. Good luck today! That’s for you not for Isabelle! I am sure she will have so much fun. It is so hard though sending your little one off. Mine is only 19 months, but I had the hardest time leaving her with her daddy when I just went to a conference. Did the same thing…packed everything for her and daddy!

    1. The bounce house story from today was enough for me. (See update above.)
      Thankfully, we both survived! She came home with a scrape on her elbow, but she said “I didn’t cry,” so I’d consider that a success!

  3. Yes, keep her out of Bounce House! Been there with my Becca 12 or so months ago, remember?, and she was 22 years old!! I miss my kids being little. I want to pack a lunch box like that again! You are such a good mummy Stacy, she is so well prepared and ready to enjoy her fun days the ‘cool’ teenager leaders have planned for her. Such a cute post.

  4. I hear you on the bounce house! I’m not a huge fan of trampolines either. How funny that Isabelle wanted tuna but how awesome you complied knowing she wasn’t going to eat it. Firsts are always so nerviciting!!!

  5. Another first for your family! They just keep coming, so it’s great that you have this venue to store those memories. We’re seeing our firstborn off to her first job this weekend–which happens to be in Japan. Another first for us!

  6. Parenting is an adventure! Enjoyed reading about day camp life at your house!
    P.S. Your lunches look delicious! Great lunch box too!

  7. It’s tough to send them out to enjoy new experiences without us! What a great opportunity for Isabelle and also for the teens helping with the little day campers. I hope you are able to enjoy your time to write!

  8. I am always amazed at the bravery of parents sending their kids off to school, camp, whatever. I am with you on the bouncy house. As a kid, I had an asthma attack in one and feel tense whenever I am near one.It is enjoyable to watch Isabelle grow up.

  9. I love, love, love hearing your Isabelle stories. I love them even more now that i have heard your voice live. I hope you are having fun (and/or being productive) while she is enjoying camp!

  10. Sounds like you have done all you can to prepare Isabelle and yourself for this new “first” adventure. Hope you both enjoy the experience.

  11. When you set them up with strategies for success, you get to watch how proud they are to do it on their own. I am consistently amazed by the people my children have become and how they grow each time I take a deep breath and show them the way to a new adventure.

  12. It’s those first days of any new thing that are SO SO stressful for everyone…I’m so glad you both made it through the day! PS I hope you get LOTS of revisions done over the next few weeks.

  13. I love Isabelle’s lunch box!!How come I have never seen one like that before? I am enjoying making lunch for my daughter as she is home and working this summer! Small things make life better for a mother! Enjoy your own time!

  14. I have been so busy and have not kept up online much. I got to this blogpost from yours of today; about your hopes and dream for Isabelle. I want you to know how much I admire you as a mom and person and hope some day to meet you. Best wishes for the new baby. Isabelle is a lucky child. I am so glad you let us get to know her and watch her grow (I loved listening to her “th” word practice, thistle and thong etc. and she is growing so nicely.) I know no one is ever perfect nor is life, but you guide her so beautifully and treat her with such respect and love that it is a joy to see your parenting along with your teaching advice/stories. You have amazing energy and it is contagious to many, I am sure. I will be watching to see how she does in school and I will check your blog to see how she fared at day camp. I was a counselor and know about camps….you are right, it is a big deal to send them off. While there are many caring teens and supervisors, it is not the same, but they can grow and explore and have great fun, so a trade-off. I hope you had time to write all you wanted. We have a 6 1/2 month old granddaughter and it is pure joy for me.

I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s