06/23/2014 05:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The REAL Lessons I Hope my Kids Learn at Camp

Dear Kids,

For the first time in our lives, I dropped BOTH of you off at summer camp. I missed you before I even left the parking lot. I kept waiting for the counselors to invite me to spend the week working on-site, but it never happened, so I hesitantly drove away.

As I drove home, I thought about all of the skills I taught you in order to prepare you for this day. Sure, at 7 and 9, you know how to get dressed, make your bed, brush your teeth, read and eat. You both also have faith like a rock, and I admire you for that. However, those are NOT ALL of the skills you need to be successful this week. The skills you are lacking, I have TRIED and TRIED and TRIED to teach you, but you, being so strong-willed, have refused to learn. So, here are the skills I hope and pray you finally learn at camp this week.


I hope you learn to brush your hair, Dearest Daughter. (I say this to the girl, because, Son, despite the many times I told you to put your comb in your tub, I found it in your bathroom, so I know you won't learn that this week. I'm glad you packed a hat.) Anyway, Daughter, I have been trying to teach you to brush your WHOLE head and not just one spot since the first time you cried out due to the first OF MANY tangles. Here's to learning the importance of hair brushing and maybe, just maybe you will experience how much it DOESN'T hurt when you brush your hair. Or it will hurt VERY, VERY, VERY bad on Friday when you come home.

For years and years I have been trying to teach you basic table manners. Wait until we have prayed to eat; put the napkin on your lap; put the food IN your MOUTH and NOT on your face. You have mastered clearing the table and wiping it off, but for some reason, countless meals at the table with these expectations have been ignored by two extremely intelligent children. I pray that AT CAMP you learn WHY we value these manners. They are not optional, but a life skill I have been trying and trying to teach you since the first day we sat you at the table and gave you food.

Speaking of food, I can't wait for you to learn that you DON'T have to eat every hour on the hour in order to live. You will be given three meals and two snacks at camp, with nothing in between. You will see that it is possible to hike, swim, read and have fun without constantly eating. When you come home, I will now have new leverage to remind you that the kitchen is closed, yet you will be OK.


Finally, I hope and pray you learn to forget the sadness of life and just HAVE ENDLESS fun. I hope you dance like no one cares, sing at the top of your lungs and smile like there's no tomorrow. I hope you enjoy being unplugged and feel the carefree days of summer. You deserve a week of just plain, OLD-FASHIONED fun.

While you are away, I will learn that a clean house that stays clean is enjoyable, it is also endlessly empty. I don't think I will ever LOVE a sticky floor, but I know I will appreciate it more. I know I will learn this lesson, because it's been less than four hours since I dropped you off, and I already miss you more than you will EVER know.

All my love,


Courtney is a mom, teacher, writer, photographer and dreamer. She writes about her perfectly imperfect life at