22 November, 2012

'Tis Camp Time, Yet Again ......

(Pic courtesy : erwinnavyanto.in via Google)
He left on Tuesday morning.  It was camp time.  Last year, he’d been away for three days – this time around it was going to be four days and three nights.  This time around, camp was definitely going to be different.  While last year, they were safely ensconced within the confines of a dorm, this year around, they were scheduled to camp in little tents on an open campsite.  Though we knew this was safe, given the parent’s allowance for worry (albeit a little), fingers and toes were indeed crossed, hoping and praying that everything would be fine and that camp would be a memorable experience.
He had his own bunch of doubts and there were a few butterflies that had been making their presence felt, ever since school opened after the mid term break.  Come camp morning, Vic dropped him off at school and later Vic said the transformation he’d seen in Pecan was remarkable.  The moment Pecan saw his group of friends at school, he was totally relaxed and within minutes, he had dumped his bag on a bench and was off to play tag with his friends.
Thus began this year’s camp odyssey. 
Today is Day 3 of camp and Pecan and all the other kids will be going back to their respective homes tomorrow.  They will be tired but hopefully, all of them will carry within their hearts, sweet memories of a camp, which, from the looks of it, has taught them things their parents would never even dream of.  Survival skills, surfing, making a makeshift raft and actually setting sail in it, getting sand all over them and being hosed down with cold water, building a makeshift shelter, starting a fire with twigs and tinder …. I can go on and on.  These are things that I’ve gleaned just by looking at the pictures that are being continually posted on the live blog by the teachers who are at camp with the kids.
We had not had even a glimpse of Pecan over the past two days.  Today morning, as I was looking at the live blog and the updated pictures, there he was.  He was on the beach, with his friend and the two of them appeared to be working on building a makeshift raft.  “When did he grow up so ?” was the first incoherent thought that wormed its way into my mind.  It was followed by a sincere sensation that warmed the heart because Pecan looked content and happy. 
When one sees that ones kids are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, one knows that it is time indeed to start loosening those strings.  Those strings that scream “you are needed – now and always”.  Parents will always be needed but it is important to loosen those strings along the way.   More important is to be able to start “letting go”.  It is more difficult to “let go” than to “hold on”.  With the realization that kids are getting capable of taking care of themselves, dawns the comprehension that the kids are indeed “growing older”.  “Growing up” is so very bittersweet.  It is poignant, it is heart rending but at the same time, it is also a rather tender, moving experience – for a parent to realize that soon will come the time when those emotional strings will have to be seriously undone.
He will, as will all the other kids at camp, come back probably a bit more independent than he was when he left a couple of days back but this independence will hold them in good stead.  I’m sure this camp would have taught them invaluable experiences, ones that we, as parents would never ever have dreamt of teaching them.  I’m sure this camp would have increased their confidence in themselves and their capabilities when it comes to handling situations without their parents around.
This camp would have, as will the next one too, definitely taught them to slow down and appreciate the more natural things in life.  While they are at camp, they are isolated from electronic devices that otherwise tend to take up a major chunk of their free time.  No IPods, IPads, Smartphones – for that matter – they do not even have TV.  Without electronic distractions, Pecan hopefully has been learning to appreciate life in the slow lane.  What is TV compared to camping out in the open under a blanket of stars.  What is an electronic alarm clock when you get to wake up in the morning to the chirping of birds and the mooing of cows and buffaloes J.
I don’t know why but even as I sat here, penning this down, I could feel my eyes misting.  That made me look within my heart and I was indeed pleasantly surprised to discover that that misting of the eyes was not because I was missing Pecan or because I wanted to tighten those emotional strings but more so to do with the fact that there is definitely a certain amount of pride associated with knowing that one’s child can manage by himself, away from home and parents.
I am sure he will come back home tired and exhausted tomorrow but with more feathers to add to the cap of independence.  As yet another day goes by with Pecan at camp, as a few more emotional strings tug and stretch in an attempt to break free, here’s hoping that he comes back from camp tired but happy.  Here’s hoping that he comes back from camp physically exhausted but with a heart full of memories that he’s bound to hold dear, for a lifetime.
I do hope this camp has proved to be a learning experience for all the kids involved and that in part it has brought them face to face with the knowledge that when the situation so arises, if the situation so calls for it, there exists within each and every one of them, a nucleus of strength and a hub of determination that can help them scale walls, no matter how high. 
Like Dennis Waitley once said 
"The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence."

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