Katie saw how much fun Grant had at camp and immediately started saving her money so she could go to camp this year. She pigeon-holed birthday money, allowance money, and pet-sitting money over the last ten months. When it came time to register for camp, she very proudly transferred $100 from her savings account to apply toward the fee. That's a lot of money when your parents only pay you $5 every two weeks in allowance!
The night before Katie left for camp, Curt and I sat at the kitchen counter writing notes for her to open during camp. I taped them to huge packs of candy and snacks (I'm sure her counselor will love me for that one) and tearfully packaged them up in a bag. A week is a LONG time to be away from home.
I wondered how she'd feel about going to bed on her own without Curt or I snuggling her, praying with her, and going through our nightly routine. Maybe she wouldn't care or notice. But I knew I would. The house feels empty without her.
I pictured Katie enjoying an entire week of relative freedom. One full week of playing with friends, choosing how much to eat and what to eat, deciding on her own if she'll shower and when. One full week without me reminding her to brush her hair and her teeth, make her bed, pick up her room, and be nice to her sisters. It's her first big taste of freedom.
I wondered how much of what she packed will actually make it back home and how much will end up in the charity donation pile. My sweet Katie is not known for being organized!
I worried about Katie getting hurt. Or stung by a bee (she's allergic). Would she be brave and cry quietly? Or fall apart because I'm not there to kiss it better? It's my job to do that stuff, not a strange nurse.
I wondered about the friendships she'll make. Will they be life-long? Will there be girls that test her ability to be kind even when she's frustrated? How will she handle living in close quarters with so many new friends?
But most of all I wondered about what God will do in her heart and mind while she's at camp. How will she grow in her knowledge of who Jesus is? How much He loves her? Will she come back with a greater understanding of God's plan for her life? Will she begin to see how uniquely created and treasured she is? I sure hope so.
Sunday morning Katie loaded her bazillion bags into the back of the Sequoia. She had her bag of clothes, her pillow, her treat bag, her Bible/journal bag, her sleeping bag, and a big bag of random stuff she added at the last minute. She's such a girl!
As we drove the rugged Coastal Range toward camp, our family bonded. We laughed. Sang. Drove through every campground scouting future camp sites. Teased. Laughed. And tried to guess what Katie would be doing each day at camp. At one point, when she needed to take a potty break, Curt quipped, "It's okay. It's cool to pee your pants." When the Twin Rocks Camp sign came into view, we all hooped and hollered. Curt leaned on the horn and was in rare form with his corny jokes, making all the counselors and staff laugh.
Katie connected quickly with her friends Madelynn and Tori. We were all relieved to find out they were in a cabin together. Just having one friend can make all the difference in a camp experience.
When Katie posed by the "Welcome to Girls Camp" sign with a HUGE smile, I felt the emotions come hard and fast. My baby girl is growing up. She's off to camp for an entire week and she's equipped to do well. I'm proud of the sweet young woman she's morphing into, but growing is painful. Maybe more so for the parents who have to let our kids test their wings.
I asked my Haiti Sisters to pray for Katie this week. Somehow knowing that other mommas are lifting my daughter to the King makes it easier to let her go. I invite you to join us in praying. Not just for Katie, but for all those precious daughters that are away from home for an entire week. Will you pray that in this week of freedom and growth they make life-long friends, are safe, and that they meet Jesus face-to-face in a "my life will never be the same again" way?