Hello Camp Parents! My name is Missy and I am the database administrator for ACA. In this role, I work with a number of our teams to manage information related to the association’s members. But I am also a mother to a young daughter, Macy, who was born in 2006.

About a year ago, I began to realize that Macy was becoming my “mini-me.” Due to the nature of my job, I spend a considerable amount of time each day on a computer or my smartphone. And I noticed my daughter paralleling her time on her tablet instead of exploring or creating new games with her friends. That’s when a light bulb flipped on for me. I decided it was time to take her out of this fast-paced environment and send her to camp. Because my husband and I have suffered the sad loss of two earlier pregnancies — including our son Matthew, who was stillborn — I will admit to being somewhat of an over-protective parent to my daughter. So the thought of sending her away to camp was unnerving to me, as you might guess.

Using ACA’s Find a Camp tool, I found a camp pretty close to where we live, one that was ACA-accredited, had a horse program, and was religiously affiliated — all things important to my family. I had convinced myself that she should go to camp, but then I saw the price. So I took an additional step and called the camp. The camp director was very understanding and talked to me about scholarships and payment options, so I registered her. Before she ever left for camp, I learned a valuable lesson: there is always an option to send a child to camp or, as the old adage says, “If there’s a will, there’s a way!”

When time came to drop her off at camp, her dad and I followed her around for a while to make sure she felt comfortable enough to be there by herself. Then we hugged her, said goodbye, and hoped she would have a great experience. I have to admit, while she was away, several thoughts kept going through my head: Is she okay? Does she miss me? Is she making friends? Did the horse bite or kick her? Does she want to go home?

When we returned for pick-up day, we knew immediately she had a great time. Macy confidently introduced us to her new friends and her counselor. She could not stop talking about all the activities she did and what she had learned. Then she asked, “Can I come back next year?” So, we preregistered her for 2017. In preparation for the upcoming summer, my husband and I have been making monthly payments, just our way of ensuring there is scholarship money that can enable another child to have a great camp experience!

Once home, I was unpacking her suitcase and discovered that the initials letters we sent had been opened, but the last ones were not. Neither were the cards with stickers I had tucked into her suitcase. Later that week, I took her camera’s film to get developed and there wasn’t much on it. That’s when I realized she was just too busy being a kid — without being a “wired kid.” Mission accomplished!

So, if you haven’t loosened the reins and given your child the experience of camp, I encourage you let them try at least once.

Photo courtesy of SpringHill Camps in Seymour, IN.