Exhausted by first week of camp, restored by a low-key weekend

Last week, the boys were at Camp Shoresh – a camp located about 45 minutes from our home, in the middle of farmland and rolling hills in Maryland. S went there last year, and loved it, and this year, J joined him, rather than staying at the BK-ECC for their summer program. We love the ECC, and they have a great summer program, but we felt that J needed to have a little push to experience new things, and gain a little independence, in the hopes that he might be able to move away from this very clingy phase he is stuck in. The ECC was so kind, and left open to us the option of signing him up late for the summer, if he is overwhelmed by the bus ride, and all the newness of Camp Shoresh.

And, yes, the first day last week, J was very nervous. He had been anticipating for the past 3 weeks or more, every since we first told him that he would be going to Shoresh. During the last week of the regular school year, every morning he would ask “Am I going to Shoresh, or to school?” and when the reply was “School”, he breathed a sigh of relief. We went to get the boys their camp physicals – an independent source of anxiety, since he worried that he would have shots! I didn’t think he was due for any, but I didn’t want to make any false promises. It turned out, thankfully, that he wasn’t due for any vaccinations (nor his brother, who never minds about them anyway), but, as soon as we left the doctor’s office, J asked “Are we going to Camp Shoresh now?” (on Friday afternoon! so the answer was a definite “No!”).

So, with all this anxiety and anticipation, and talking about the bus ride, and how he would be with his brother, he was in tears last Monday, clinging to me as we got into our car. We drove the 5 1/2 miles to the bus pickup point, and pulled into the driveway. The bus was waiting for us, and S ran up, and greeted the counselor, who was checking names of his list. I had hoped to get a photo of the two boys in their clean new Camp Shoresh shirts in front of the bus, but all I managed was this:

The red arrow points to S's backpack, as he rushes up to get on board!

The red arrow points to S’s backpack, as he rushes up to get on board!

And, J got excited by the idea of riding this huge bus, and the cool factor that S had been telling him about: they show movies on the bus, and there are potties on the bus!!

And, of course, he had a great day!

Most of the subsequent days of the week were good, although we had one very painful departure, which was set up by exhaustion from too late a night before, and so many fun-filled hours at camp. He got on the bus wailing bitterly, and I don’t know if you can see his pained face through the window here:

A painful parting

But, he was OK by the end of the day.

Friday was a short day – as the camp is run by many observant Jews, who need to get home in time to prepare for the sabbath. We try to leave work early, but it’s not always possible for us, and thank goodness we have found a nice college student who helping us out with the pickup at the end of the day. This morning, J asked “Will today be a short day?” I hated to disappoint him, but he took the news OK, as I promised him that today, I would be picking him up. This afternoon’s bus ride home was another first for him, as S is staying overnight for the camp’s first sleepover, which, of course, S is delighted to be participating in, but this means J rides home alone. Gulp!

But, he got off the bus just fine, clearly a little tired, but no tears and no drama. He chatted away in the back seat, on our way home. We had to make a stop to pick up groceries and by the time we finally got home, he was losing it a little. I quickly got food into him, which often helps avert the melt-down. Dad got home, and J was still doing fine, until I said “Time for bed”.

That’s when the melt-down occurred!

“I’m scared to sleep without S!!!”, he wailed.

He insisted on going to sleep in our bed, not even willing to try his own bed, even if I lay down with him. And, he’s her now, sound asleep.

My next dread is getting him on the bus in the morning – without S to ride with him. Oh we’ll, we’ll cross that bridge tomorrow…