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Free Camp: One Mom's Review

The concept of a free camp was completely lost to me until this year.

I have always been taught that you get get what you pay for. Knowing this hasn't stopped me from always going after a bargain. I always go with the best deal when it comes to home improvements, and if you want to see what the cheapest wood floor looks like, come look at my uneven dining room floor. It's my daily reminder that I shouldn't be too cheap.

But I am beginning to question this pearl of wisdom. Last year all of my friends signed their kids up for , a free camp at in Newtown Square. It was all the fuss one morning last May when they all went together to stand in line to sign their kids up for this free camp. I was not one of them. I couldn't understand, nor did I want to understand the concept of a free camp. Why would any counselor spend a half day with hundreds of kids for free?

Quite honestly, and this is meant in the best way, I love my boys but I often grumble that I'm not paid for this thankless job, and they are my own flesh and blood. So why would a stranger hang out and play with my kids for free?

It doesn’t make any sense to me, so I skipped the free camp and instead hung out with Peter and Teddy who fought all week because there was nothing to do. Meanwhile, my friends' kids were having a blast at camp and were literally jumping out of the car each morning to get there.

So this year when it came time to sign up for Camp Treasure Island, I didn't hesitate. I figured it was free, and if they came home after the first day miserable, then I wouldn't send them back.

The first morning I pulled into the parking lot at camp and one of the counselors came up to my car and said “dropping off or parking?” This was a loaded question. It seemed to me that everyone was dropping off who had pulled into the parking lot to begin with.

So dropping off seemed like the logical answer, plus, as a helicopter mom, I try to check my overbearing insanity at the front door each morning. I try. However, my kids are new to the camp and had no idea where to go or what to do. Of course, with several cars waiting patiently behind me the pressure was on and I said “drop off.” With that, the door opened and my boys jumped out.

I slowly left the parking lot, trying to watch the boys in the rearview mirror. The slow wait to get out of there was very enlightening. Moms were parking across the street and walking their kids to camp. I started to get a little bit worried. Okay–a lot worried. I have never just "dropped off" my kids anywhere. And certainly nowhere that was “free."

By the time I turned left onto Route 252/Newtown Street Road, I was starting to hyperventilate. I called my friend Susan who also has a child in the camp. I was looking for reassurance. I got her voicemail and hung up.

I made it as far as and turned around. I called my husband. I told him I had to go back. I shouldn't have dropped the boys off somewhere they were unfamiliar with. He's used to my insanity, so he tried to talk me down and assure me that the boys were fine. I hung up on him.

I was just about to turn back into the church parking lot when my cell phone rang. It was Susan. She had walked her daughter into camp (like a good mom) and found my boys in the wrong line for sign-in. She helped them find their way and even took them to their seats. She said they were fine and not to worry. I turned off my turn signal and went home.

When I was waiting to pick up the boys later that day I prepared myself to hear the worst. I expected to hear that Teddy spent the day crying or not participating. Instead, what I got was two kids running out of camp, huge smiles on their faces and loaded with stories to share. They both met new friends, they got wet, they played, they sang songs and listened to Bible stories. They couldn't wait for the next day.

The whole week was like that. Each day I dropped them off and each day they had a ton of fun for three hours for free. The only thing the church asked for was a donation of school supplies for families in need, which both boys brought in the last day of camp.

There was only one complaint, and it came from Peter the very first day. He announced that he didn't understand why it was called Camp Treasure Island because there was no treasure to dig for. Well, I beg to differ. I think the camp and the people who run it, for free, are the real treasure and I can't wait to sign the the boys up for next year.

 

There are still a couple of camp opportunities left this summer.  

Evening Vacation Bible School–, Aug. 15-19.

Junior Golf Camp–, Aug. 15-19.

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