The younger sibling has flown the coop too !! The nest, I mean :-). He’s off on a three day / two night camp. We spent the morning laying out all the stuff that he needed to carry. There was a lot of banter, a lot of laughs and fun as we took turns labelling all his stuff.
There were some little butterflies fluttering away inside Pecan’s tummy and occasionally there would be statements like “Hmmm ….. my first camp ever. My first time away from home” or “I’ve never been away from home without you guys”. But those little butterflies would always be covered up with a sense of intrepid bravery. “I can do this” is what he seemed to be telling himself, convincing himself of, over the past couple of days. With Pecan, if there’s one thing he IS good at, it is facing his fears. No matter what the fear, no matter how big the butterflies – he has learnt to face them head on. He does not shy away from them and this attitude, if he continues with it as he grows, should hold him in good stead through the vagaries of life.
Among many other things, one thing that he mentioned to Vic this morning, made me think really hard. He said to Vic “I don’t have a problem with being independent but Mummy does not want me to be independent”. :-) Made me think. Made me ask myself, after having reached into the deepest recesses of my heart whether this was true. Well – it is true that every time Macadamia goes off to camp too, there are those eeeny weeny butterflies inside my tummy too. Now, when it is time for Pecan to set off on his camp too, the same eeny weeny butterflies are flying around my tummy too. But I guess this is something every parent feels – when they, albeit for a few days, entrust their offspring to the watchful arms and eyes of The One Above and The One Above alone. It is not as much the entrusting part – it has more to do with the “letting go” bit.
In that sense, perhaps, these camps are just as a learning curve for the parents, as it is for the kids. The kids have been told that there are going to be many activities at camp, some of which may or will make them face their fears. It could be something as simple as facing the fear of a few days away from home (the comfort zone that they’ve known so far). For those who have a fear of heights, it could be the session in which the kids do rock climbing. This camp, as will the ones to follow next year and the next, will see the children taking more and more risks (controlled risks, I’m sure) but end of the day, it is all aimed at making them more independent – independent in terms of making decisions for themselves, by themselves, independent in terms of facing their fears, independent in terms of taking accountable risks. For the parents, it is yet another lesson in “learning to let go”.
Mother Teresa knew what she was saying when she said “Life is an adventure ; Dare it !!”
Over the next couple of days, I know my thoughts will wander time and again about what Pecan might be doing at that point of time or whether he’s eaten enough or whether he is wearing his blanket at night (cos this is something he does not really like to do) or whether he is cosy enough at bedtime and lots of other little things. But everytime I do that, I will pause to remind myself that Pecan is probably having the time of his life, with his best buddies for company, with his teachers for guidance.
He might come back from camp a slightly different person – with a much stronger sense of independence, of the person that he is and most importantly of the things that he can “do” and “be”, all by himself. These camps, ideally, are an excellent opportunity for them to experience life, look at life from a slightly different point of view, an independent point of view. Probably, some of the best lessons that they will practically learn in life might be through these camps.
Nowadays, one finds kids interacting less face to face and interacting more with and through machines – emails, IPads, ITouch, IPhone, TV, NDS, PSP, XBox – you name it. For the most part, one sees kids with their nose stuck in one of the above at most given points of their free time. I personally think that these three days / two nights in the absence of technological gadgets is a really good thing for them. This will probably see better social skills emerging in the kids and existing social skills being sharpened and honed.
Another thing that camp is bound to teach them is team work. The dynamics of working in a group in an environment other than the ones they are normally used to, will indeed teach them valuable lessons – some of which may stay with them through life.
Knowing Pecan, he will, in all probability, come back with a whole load of stories from camp to share with us. Yet again, knowing him, they would be a good mix – some outright funny, some downright outrageous, some very philosophical with a touch of his deep thought to it and hopefully some things about camp that he will treasure for a lifetime to come.
I do hope this is the beginning of yet another innings in his life – one in which he learns to navigate, learn and enjoy life, one in which he learns to look at independence as a valuable asset that strengthens him and lays the foundation for him to build his character, for what he is. I do hope that whenever the opportunity presents itself, now and later on in life, he learns to stretch his neck out of his comfort zone – for, as Herbie Hancock says “that’s where the joy and the adventure lie”.