Sixteen years ago, I took my then 6 year old daughter to her first church camp. She had just graduated from Kindergarten and wanted to go with her two best church friends. I was nervous. She wasn’t. The two other moms, both church friends of mine, also volunteered to drive. It seemed that none of us were ready to put our 6 year old on a church van and watch them drive away without us getting to hover a bit longer.
The church camp, Lazy F, was 3 hours away in Eastern Washington. So, we all piled into the van and set off to see our little girls off.
The camp was only 2 nights long. It seemed that we barely got home and it was time to go back and pick them up. We lameted, as we drove the van home with the girls, that we should have just stayed nearby while they were there.
And, with that, Mommy Camp was born.
For the next 12 or so years, we took the girls to camp and stayed nearby. The camp increased by a day until they got up to a full week camp. As the girls tried new camp locations over the years we stayed in Sunnyside, Port Townsend, Long Beach, Seaside, and Arch Cape on the Oregon Coast.
The girls outgrew church camp years ago – they are now all college graduates – but we keep going each year. It’s a time to relax in relationships that are well weathered. Over the years we have seen each other through raising kids from children to adults, aging and dying parents, health issues, marriage stresses, and other life drama. We have given each other permission to be brutally honest (“no that does not fit”) and listened without judgement to our pleasures and pain of doing life.
This year we realized that between us we have 102 years of marriage experience – maybe that’s because we take time out for Mommy Camp.
The secret to our success, other than completing our “to do” list (yes, it’s tongue in cheek real), we follow these three simple rules:
1. Plan ahead.
We find dates in January for the following summer and protect them. We have had to cut the week short a few times, but none of us has ever missed joining the group.
2. Have a system.
We have, over the years, developed and refined a system for dealing with meals, food, money, decisions, and activities that is stress free.
3. Communicate openly.
We apply the rule “what’s said at Mommy Camp, stays at Mommy Camp”. And, we have never broken a confidence.
Other than the huge mistake of bringing our girls with us for a night before camp once we have never added or invited another person to the group, or heaven forbid, brought our husbands with us.
This is protected time. Our time.
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. And, it’s now available on Kindle! Check it out.
Stay in touch on Facebook