First Time: Two Weeks at Camp Without Us – (gulp!)

Camping in the mountains is going to be a wonderful experience for him.

He’s leaving tomorrow. My son is leaving for a two-week camping adventure in the mountains, hundreds of miles away, without us.

I’ve never had my boy leave me for more than a five days at a time, and when he was sleeping over, it was almost always with his grandparents who live only a half hour away. A few times he has gone to Disney World (about five hours away) with his aunt, also for a few days.

His father and I have had discussions, and our boy is a thirteen-year-old Boy Scout (almost fourteen) ¬†who has been garnering experience in camping for a while now. He’s been on a twenty-mile hike and has proven his worth as a scout at camp.

He’s going with trusted adults. One of the scout leaders, the council chair, is a lovely woman who’s also been his martial arts teacher for a long time – since he was seven – and he considers her almost family. We do, too. She’s an experienced camper and outdoorswoman and has camped in the area many times before. Lucky for me, she’s also good at sending me updates, many times with photos.

As far as the scoutmaster, he’s been a friend for about two years now, and we have known him for the past three years. Our son also trusts him and considers him fair and kind. He’s also an experienced camper and has all the gear one would need on a trip like this.

The third and fourth leaders are excellent planners and good at handling expenses and other details.

In the mountains, he’ll be partaking in many amazing activities: camping in the woods, zip lining, whitewater rafting, tubing, visiting a Native American museum, mining for gems, climbing the highest mountain in the eastern United States. This will be a trip he’ll always remember.

Why then, is it so hard? What is so hard about letting go? I have always been an adventurer in my heart. Is it the fact he’s going away for two whole weeks, or the fact he’s going to be making decisions on his own once in a while, the fact I’m not there to remind him, and the biggest fact of them all weighing on my heart: I will miss him.

I’ll miss his smile, his laughter, his irreverent humor, his exuberance, his lack of diligence, his messiness, everything. I’m going to miss my boy.

Someone once said the toughest part of being a mama is to forever to have your heart go walking outside your body. Letting him go and learn and grow on this camping trip is splitting my heart and have it wander farther than I’ve ever let it roam before.

I know it’s not easy, but I know I must. I trust in God to keep him safe and the leaders, who all have one of their own children on the trip as well.


On My Son Turning Thirteen: A Note

Son, I’ll keep this brief as I know though you like to read very much, you vastly prefer tales of dragons and adventure, and I’m afraid what I have to say won’t be as exciting – but just barely.

You see, you are turning 13, and although I can blink and see you as a toddler with hand dimples instead of knuckles firmly grasping a Little People figure, you are transitioning into a (very) young man right before my eyes.

Although thirteen can be and is a wonderful age, it can also be a bit heavy. The weight of thirteen shouldn’t just be yours to bear. Know your mother and father are here not just as parents and not merely friends but confidantes and coaches to support you through this sometimes baffling stage named adolescence. Don’t be afraid, be not ashamed, but be assured that, for millennia, these changes have been happening to millions and millions (and millions) of people. You are not alone. Whether you like it or not, you are.. not alone. In fact, we have braved these changes ourselves and son, all the adults you see have experienced these changes themselves.

Let the inside changes always command your attention more than the outside. Watch your thoughts, guard your affections, your attention. Hold fast to your values as you explore other points of view. Grow upwards, but maintain roots deep into the soil you were born into. This is where your character is nurtured and where you cut off the parts which are no longer desired and no longer needed. Let this sacred gardening be your main purpose as you mature and become the human being God intends you to be.

Happy Birthday, B. Mama loves you so very much.