Sleep-Away Camp

by Finola My two daughters spent a week away at Camp Davern recently - a Y camp for girls near Perth. My nine-year-old, N, is quiet and introverted, and yet she has an inner confidence that constantly surprises and impresses me. My seven-year-old B is outgoing and makes friends easily and embraces life, but she has an inner worrying side to her, which also often surprises me. I was really not sure which of the two of them would have an easier time being away from home for an extended period for the first time.

As I drove to pick them up on the last day, I prepared myself to catch the first glimpse of their faces when I arrived. I knew that at first glance I would know immediately if camp had been a success. My girls are a part of me and I can read them like I can read myself.

I parked the car and got out, and walked towards the area where the counsellors were leading the campers in a song. I saw both girls sitting in different parts of the half-circle, looking calm and relaxed. I watched and waited until B saw me first. She leaped up, a gigantic grin on her face, and she ran towards me and jumped into my arms and we exchanged a crushing hug.

“Did you have fun?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Yes!” she replied

N looked over then and saw me too. She got up and walked to me a little more slowly and self-consciously. She gave me a big hug too, and I asked her the same question, already knowing the answer.

“Yes!” she replied.

They said their good-byes to their new friends and counsellors and then we gathered their mountains of things, and set off for home. In the car, they chatted to me non-stop about their week. They had loved the swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, drama, the food, the friends, the counsellors. Was there anything that they didn’t like I asked them. No, not a thing.

They are already talking about going back next year, and this time for the 12-day camp. This suits me and husband Tony just fine, because I think we enjoyed sleep-away camp even more than they did.

Having a week with no kids in the house brought us back ten years ago when we were married but didn’t yet have children. We could do what we liked whenever we wanted to. It was all the better though, because we haven‘t had time alone like that for so long, that we truly appreciated every moment; we knew how precious this time to ourselves was. One day after work, Tony and I walked over to the tennis club and played tennis without having to bribe anyone with freezies. We then strolled home past our favourite neighbourhood Thai restaurant and picked up some take-out, which we then ate on the couch in front of the TV. Bliss

I did miss my girls, of course I did, but I thoroughly enjoyed my week off from being a parent. Thank goodness they loved camp because I am looking forward to shipping them off sending them again next summer.

I thought I would let the girls tell you in their own words about their camp experiences, typed by me:

Seven-year-old B’s post:

Last Saturday, I went to Camp Davern and that’s a sleep-away camp, and I went for seven days. Every morning as soon as you woke up, you could do the polar bear dip which is just a morning swim and then there is zoom zone and you play games. And then we eat breakfast, and then we brush our teeth and then we do some cabin activities.

Me: What are cabin activities?

B: Mommy, it’s when you do activities with your cabin. Wow Mommy. You should know what cabin activities are!”

Me: Ah, yes, of course. Sorry. Continue.

Wait, no, cabin activities are later. After breakfast we do cabin cleanup, then personal choice, and I chose 1) drama and 2) arts and crafts. After that we have lunch. We had soup, sandwiches, quiche, salad….stuff like that. After lunch is zap time, which is quiet time. During my zap times, I wrote a letter to my parents, I used my Junie B. Jones activity book, and I also sometimes just played with my special dog called Bowen and my special blanket called Pink Blanket.

I thought drama and arts and crafts was really fun. I made three new friends, wait two. Actually I did make three…

Me: So what was it like being away from home for a whole week:

B: I missed my parents a little bit, but then you get distracted because it’s so fun and you don’t really want to go home once they arrive.

Me: Awesome.

Nine-Year-Old N’s post:

I think camp was a great experience because it taught you a lot about the outdoors. We played a bunch of fun games like rain vs. sun which is where one team wants to get tiles into the other team’s bucket without getting tapped. If you get tapped the other person has 3 guesses to guess where the tile is on you. If none of your 3 guesses is correct, then the other person gets a 10 second getaway. On the last day of camp we played a gigantic game of Clue. On that day, it was game day. We got to play a bunch of other games too.

Me: What was it like being away from home for an entire week?

N: I think it was fun because you got to make a bunch of new friends and just be away from home.

Me: did you miss Me and Daddy?

N: A bit, but we were having too much fun to really realize it.

Me: Awesome.

Finola is married to Tony and together they have two girls who are 6 and 8. You can read her blog at