Spreading His Wings :: A Story about Sleep-Away Camp


Last summer: 2018

My baby boy, my super clingy one, has decided he wants to go to a four day sleep-away church camp.

Initial reaction: I’m not ready! He’s not ready. We’re both not ready. Right?

But then I remember that I used to pray for this day to come: the day when my son wouldn’t be so attached to me. And now, low and behold, we’re here and I’m not feeling it

I had a feeling it was coming, because he’d been asking if he could stay the night with a friend (which, news alert, has never worked out in the past; I’d get a call in the middle of the night).  But the last time, while he did end up staying all night long, he still called me. (It was just to say, “I know I’ll see you in the morning but wanted to say good night.” But he still called.) Can he do that at sleep-away camp? 

Yes, I kind of complained a bit (ok, a lot) about him being so clingy, but now, this little boy, who is so close to double digits, is growing up. And, all honesty here, I’m not ready for him to grow up. I’m not ready for this new found courage.  I know it’s a good thing, but for so long I dealt with his separation anxiety and had gotten use to it. Now he’s spreading his wings!

When he first told me he wanted to go to camp, it dawned on me that he’s actually old enough to go this year! My second realization was he can actually go if I let him!  After my mental debate on whether either of us were emotionally ready, I started contacting his small group leaders. I basically said, “You know how Brendan is; do you think he’ll be okay?”  They all assured me he’d be just fine. They told me they’d keep him so busy that he wouldn’t have time to be homesick. Hmmmmm. Ok. Inside my head I was thinking, “Ummm you know my kid! Come on! I just know I will be making a trip to pick him up when it’s time for bed!” But later, talking to my mom who ALSO says Brendan will be fine, I realize that I am the one whose emotions are questionable! Apparently the time has come to  let my little boy grow up. 

I just can’t believe we’re here. 

I will {try} not to be that mom crying. 

I hope I don’t embarrass him. I hope I don’t embarrass myself. 

I’ll need to keep my cool (and hold the tears for the car ride after seeing him off!)

Deep down, I know I’ve longed for this day: for him to feel okay to be away from me, to have a blast, to feel safe with other friends. So after much consideration, I’m letting him go and spread his wings (for four short days!). I’m hoping he will have a blast and that he’ll have the best stories about his first trip to camp. But I also feel it’ll be the longest four days of my life! If he last the entire camp. We’ll see…

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Now: 2019


Brendan ended up doing awesome! He said it was the best time ever, and he can’t wait to go back. I was happy to hear it! (But also, son, you’ve only been in the car five minutes, can you please pretend you missed me?)

He admitted the first night was rough. (I was thinking, “Tell me about it!” ) However, his friends came around him, and he said he told himself that he knew he’d be okay. His home sickness went out the window! He talked about how he went fishing and how they had a camp fire. He was allowed to swim a lot, too.

You better be sure I spoke to his leaders too! And they spoke about how adventurous he was. They told me they loved the talks they had with him, and that he’s growing into a fine young man. Honestly, I’m so proud of the person he’s becoming. My mama was right; Brendan was just fine. We both did something brave, and it ended up being a great experience for both of us — on letting go and growing up.

I know that’s what we want naturally for our kids: to grow to independence. But when it begins to happen, a piece of your heart misses the baby you once held.

Send good vibes my way this summer though! My oldest daughter is now going for her first time this year.

And I’ve got all the feels…again…