This summer has turned out to be the camping summer. We normally do everything together as a family, but as our boys get older we believe giving them some independence is also important. Plus, mom and dad like quiet time alone too. So, we agreed to send the boys to different camps this summer. They actually really wanted to go. Instead of dreading being sent away, they counted down the days until they set off on their mini-expeditions. I am not sure if we should take that personally.
We usually send the boys to Boys Scout camp each year. Even when we were abroad, we still continued with scouting (please read my post on Scouting International for more information). Here in western Washington, we are very fortunate to have one of the best Scout camps in the nation, Camp Parsons. It is a beautiful facility. Founded in 1919, Camp Parsons is the oldest continuous running Boy Scout camp west of the Mississippi River and one of the oldest continually running Boy Scout camp in the United States. It sits on Jackson Cove, off of the Hood Canal on the Olympic Peninsula, just north of Brinnon, Washington. With 440 acres of pristine forest that includes creeks, mountain views, salt water beaches, rocky coves, and amazing facilities, no wonder the boys cannot wait to go each summers. They get to hang out with their friends for a week doing archery, rifle shooting, crafts, swimming, canoeing, hiking, craft making, rock climbing, earning merit badges, having fun at campfires, playing games, and more. What young boy would not want to go? I was fortunate to get to go for two days to help out (just to make sure they were safe I had to participate in some activities, honestly).
After a week back at home, Aaron headed back out for running camp at White Pass. Most of his high school cross-country team went. This hard-core runners retreat is located on Highway 12 over the Snoqualmie Pass near Naches, Washington. The campers train from 4,500 to 6,000 feet elevation. They stay in the ski lodge condominiums and run the trails up the slopes, 2 to 3 times a day covering over 80 miles that week! (if I only had that much energy again!) The camp is run by some very impressive runners who have competed in the Olympics, won national championships, and coach professionally and in university. Aaron said he learned a lot about running, but he sure looked wiped out when he came home.
Next, Elijah had his turn to pursue his passion for a week. He went to zoo camp at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Since he is only 11, his camp was only during the day. He still had an incredible time. He got to go behind the scenes at the zoo with the animal keepers and veterinarians. As part of the camp program, each camper had to choose an animal and conduct a research project on it over the course of the week. Elijah picked a jaguar as his specimen. He felt very scientific as he collected his data on the big cat’s activities. The day campers also got to see how the zoo staff cares for, feeds, and trains all of the various animals. In between learning sessions, they played games and ran around like animals (no pun intended!). Needless to say, he had a great time.
We have one more week long camp. This one includes daddy. We are supposed to do a 50 mile canoe trip along Ross Lake in Washington. We are planning to pack all of our gear in the canoes, row for 8 to 10 miles a day, camp on the shore, and make for the other end of the lake by the end of the week. Along the way we will fish, swim, hike, do scout skills, and hopefully have fun. These “all boys” times I think are very important to their development (and mine). No electronics allowed.
I remember going to camps when I was a young lad. The camp experience taught me to be more self-reliant, independent, and problem solving. I made friends, learned something new, and had a great time. I admit, my wife and I did notice a hole in our family unit while they were gone. Not having the sounds of sibling rivalry shaking the house was nice. However, we missed sharing our day with them and vice-versa. We are not ready to be “empty-nesters,” yet.
Do you remember any camping experiences, good or bad? If so, share them with us. We would love to hear any interesting tales from camp!