Why Visiting My Kid At Summer Camp This Year Broke My Heart

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Love, Heartbreak

My break down moment happened in the middle of parents' weekend.

I got to see my youngest son, now 16 years old, as the male lead in the camp play this summer.

How much fun is that?

I soaked up every minute: every cheesy line, every missed cue, and every bead of sweat as I sat uncomfortably on a wooden bench in a the hot, stuffy theater in the woods. I watched, and juggled my iPhone and my DSLR camera. I was determined to get great shots and video of as much as I could.

I was not just attending THIS CAMP PLAY…

I was attending the LAST CAMP PLAY.

For some people "empty nest" has to do with school. Not for me.

I have three kids that had gone through the same camp since they were each 10 years old. They are all teenagers now. Visitor's Day was always exciting, and always involved a play, or a musical.

My kids went on to become staff at this camp too. Camp truly became a home away from home in the summer.

But when kids become staff, parents don’t go to camp anymore to see them. You only get invited to go on Visitor’s Day when you have ... campers.

So this performance was a big deal.

It would be the last camp play I'd ever see, essentially. My youngest, who had become a CIT (counselor in training) will hopefully be hired on as staff next year. So it’s unlikely I will physically go to the camp again in the near future.

The end of summer camp ... forever.

I was suddenly overcome with nostalgic feelings. There’s no place on earth quite like summer camp, really. Kids make friends for life and really grow up while at camp. Yes, there are shenanigans (the type that make great stories for decades) but overall, it’s just a solid experience that shapes a young life forever.

There are bonuses for parents too: My husband and I would have never been able to take five unbelievably fantastic vacations alone without camp. Where else can you leave your kids with that kind of supervision? There’s not much to worry about when they are at camp. They are happy. There’s a doctor on staff. There is supervision in place.


When I think about this transition from a place of loss, it makes me feel sad and old. But when I think of it from a place of having more funds to spend doing amazingly fun things with my kids (since this would also be the last time we would have to PAY for camp), it makes me feel happy and exhilarated!

The thing to remember about thoughts is that we can control them. It’s empowering. Transitions like this can be hard, but they can also be exciting. I love watching my kids growing and experiencing new things. Graduating from camp is one of the milestones of having older kids and being smack dab in the middle of my midlife chapter.

I’m just going to have to cope, but I will focus on doing it MY WAY. A way that makes me feel good.

Suzy offers a Mini Session in which she will talk to you about why you’re not rockin’ your midlife thing (the way you want to be), and also tell you a bit more about why coaching with her can help you move things forward.


This article was originally published at Midlife Unplugged Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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