My Kid Left for Camp and Didn’t Even Say Goodbye

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Today is a big day. Boy Wonder is leaving for science camp for four days with his 6th grade class. Gulp.

While I knew at least theoretically that his leaving would someday come, I never actually expected it to happen so soon, simply by virtue of the person he is.

Boy Wonder’s different than a lot of kids. Happiest alone, he prefers the comfort of his bedroom walls to anyone or anything. And while he most certainly has friends, he’s never once wanted to spend the night a friend’s house and feels utterly indifferent about having friends over. Ever since Boy Wonder was young child, whenever we’d go someplace really special, like a family vacation or an amusement park, in the midst of big smiles and fun new experiences, after a few short hours he’d always ask to go home.

Home has just always been a source of comfort for my son – ever constant and ever safe. Weird? Maybe, but at least he’s happy here.

When I attended the science camp meeting for parents of budding 6th graders last year, I learned all about the wonderful educational experiences science camp would bring: camping, nature hikes, archery, astronomy, ecology, and botany. What a special opportunity for my son to experience science (his favorite subject) hands on, make lasting memories with his friends there, and perhaps most importantly, spend a few days away from home.

Boy Wonder refused. “I’m not going,” he tells me, “I don’t want to.” Without so much as a single reason why. Knowing him as I do, I already knew why. Four days and three nights away from home was a tall order for my son, a kid who has only ever spent a handful of nights at grandparents’ houses in his 11 years on this earth.

Should I push him? Should I not? Should I respect his discomfort or attempt to change his mind?

I tried everything to convince him that science camp would be great – from the promotional video that totally made me want to go, to the program literature, and of course the argument that 95 percent of the 6th grade class was going (including his friends). Still, his answer was a resounding no. [read more…]

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