Friday, July 8, 2016

The Summer of Camps Galore

This summer has been one camp after another for my sweet B's. Dance, basketball, and rodeo bible is just down the road. In some ways, I resent these camps, because they take my kiddos away from me. Time is so precious to us! But on the other hand, I know they are important, and I am grateful they have the good fortune to enjoy these opportunities.

Seeing Britt at his basketball camps reminds me of the camps I attended as a kid. I wish I had been as confident as Britt is - I would have gotten a lot more out of them. Instead, I just wished the camps would get over so I could go back home.

The first camp I attended is one I will never forget. It was a 4-H camp, held for a week up in the forest, called "Lake Creek Camp." I cried almost the entire duration of this camp. To say I was homesick is the understatement of the year! But it was more than that - it was a culture shock for me, a little country bumpkin. They did what I still to this day feel were mean and cruel things. For example, if you had your elbow on the table, the counselors and the entire cafeteria would yell, "Mabel, Mabel strong and able, get your elbow off the table!" And then you were required to run around the outside of the cafeteria while everyone laughed at you. This didn't happen to me, but I lived in fear that it would. The kids were very different from what I was used to in my little country community. Sleeping in a cabin with other girls was not what I considered fun. I felt scared, lonely and sad. The saving grace of this experience was the 4-H Director. Her name was Shelley Pagel, and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She took me under her wing for most of the week while I cried on her shoulder. I thought she was wonderful, to say the least. Sadly, after this camp, she was killed in a car crash by a trucker who fell asleep at the wheel, a head on collision. This still makes me sad - she was such a good and beautiful soul, just starting her life. I will forever be grateful to her for how she took care of me. Unbelievably, I attended this camp again, when I was older, and I still did not enjoy it. I'm not sure why I thought I would. After that, I gave up. No more 4-H camp for me!

But I did go to Boise State University to a basketball camp in high school. The first year, I had a friend with me and we stayed with my parents' beloved former high school teachers, The Valentines. The Valentines were the most respected teachers Crane had ever seen up to that point, and I believe they are still a legend to this day. My cousin Lee lived in the area, and he would drive us around town after camp, playing music in his little pickup and my friend and I thought it was the best time ever. It was also fun getting to know The Valentines, and I had a really good time. Except at the camp, I wasn't confident in my abilities, and I'm not sure how much I learned.

The following year, I attended the BSU basketball camp by myself, and I stayed in the dorms. And I was homesick. As I reflect on it, I wish I had just focused on basketball and getting better, but I was too worried that I wasn't good enough. I was embarrassed by my skills. Instead of not worrying about it and just doing the drills and working on myself, I lived in fear of what people thought. I know I didn't make the most of the experience. I also remember the super star of the camp and wishing I could be like her. Her name was Chris Bishop - I still remember her name! Can you believe that? She was really, really good and won all the awards and accolades. I remember wishing I could be her instead of me. How pitiful is that?

I am so grateful Brailey and Britt don't have this same problem. Although Britt hasn't even been playing basektball for a year, he is so eager to learn it makes me cry with pride. He doesn't care what other people think about his skills. He wears a headband, proudly, to keep the sweat out of his contacts. During the Oregon camp, a kid he goes to school with and played with on a team told Britt he looked "Even stupider than usual with that headband on." Britt doesn't care. Without missing a beat, Britt said, "You don't need to wear anything to look stupid," and went off on his way. As his mother, I shouldn't be proud of him for saying such a thing, but this kid has been mean to him all year long, and to be honest, I was thrilled Britt had the wherewithal to come up with such a good comeback. This particular kid was nice to Britt until Britt started getting better at basketball - then the friendliness turned into jealousy. I am grateful Britt is not like that. Frankly, it is due to his confidence in himself that he is able to learn. He knows he isn't the best, but he loves basketball so much, he doesn't care, and he is willing to do the work to get himself where he needs to be. He said to me, "Even if I just learn one thing from each camp, it will be worth it, Mom." How right he is.

Brailey, for her part, has made a 180 when it comes to the rodeo bible camp. Last year, she didn't want to go, but she ended up having a blast. This year, she can't wait to go! Sadly, they had the camp in Pendleton during her last week of school, so she wasn't able to go to that one, but she is going to attend the one in Vancouver, which is much closer to home. It all worked out! It gives her more time to get with Mater and to feel comfortable with him, and I will be able to see her rodeo on the last day, this year. She is excited to meet new friends who share the same interest in horses as her that are of a rodeo mind. We are excited to see how it goes!

This week, she is at a huge high school dance camp. I have no idea how it is going, but I do know she is learning and growing as a person. I can't wait to see her! I am just not one of those moms who can't wait to ship her kids off. I feel like I am making huge sacrifices in letting them go, to tell you the truth. I'm such a martyr, aren't I? But I know how important it is for them to experience things like this, and they know how lucky they are to be able to go, and best of all, they have the confidence they need to succeed and grow to the best of their abilities. Yes, I am a proud mom. I just can't help it!

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