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Summer is here, schools are closed for 3 months and the normal 9 am – 1 pm activity-filled summer camps will soon be up and running!

For the first time ever, my 10 year old went on a 3 day camping trip last Thursday. One that was different from the others because it involved sleeping over.

Where we live, opportunities like this are perpetually zilch. Mainly because the weather is absolutely unfavorable almost all year round. Its either too hot and dusty or too cold and windy. There’s rarely an in-between. But of course, that doesn’t stop many of the local die-hards from having their own fun in the sun. But we’re not one of them 🙂 . We wait for the weather to turn friendly before we really venture out.

So when we got to hear about this trip, I was really excited for her to be doing this although it was her first and longest time away from us.

It brought back a lot of my own childhood memories. The thrill of being away from parents, having fun with friends, learning and doing new things together etc. I was really hoping she would enjoy it as much as I did as a child.

The camp was mainly for 9 – 17 year olds and was also more of an educational workshop aimed at personality development and leadership training in kids apart from a whole load of other activities.

I did worry though, about whether she would be able to take care of herself and do her own things. But I decided that its time I stopped babying her. I really wanted her to learn to be independent and to stop being so touchy-feely. To learn to be more bolder and stronger. So we decided she would go.

Thursday came, but I just couldn’t see the excitement in her. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any of her own friends going, but I thought this could help her venture out and make new ones. We dropped her off and came back home.

On Saturday, we went to pick her up from the camp-site.

There was a closing ceremony marking the end of the camp and the leader gave us – the parents – an insight about what the 3 days was all about. And boy! Were we enlightened!

The workshops and activities were more like survival training. Their day started at 5 a.m. They slept the night away on rug-covered floors. They were given simple and healthy food only to satisfy their hunger with nothing fancy about it. Definitely nothing choosy either. For thirst, the options were water, buttermilk or the maximum luxury of a lemonade. No fizzy drinks. Absolutely not! They had to clean up after meals and wash their own dishes. Loads of activities like yoga, swimming, arts and other creative stuff. They were let out in the desert, given compasses and made to find their own way back to the camp (supervised from a far distance, of course 🙂 ).

They learned to get out of their comfort zones and do things that they would NEVER do under normal circumstances. Watching the orderly kids, the messy ones learned to be a little more organized. The rowdier ones learned to be a little more sober. The frivolous and thoughtless ones a little more caring. The selfish, a little more sharing. They learned to not be picky about what they ate. About where they slept.

Mostly, they learned to empathize. Were taught to understand the hardships a lot of unfortunate people and children in our world go through. They learned a little to not take things for granted. Learned to adjust and compromise a little more.

And I?

I learned that evening, the effects of over-indulging our kids. Of not letting them experience or see that life is not just a bed of roses. That there is a tough and unrelenting world out there that my babies would one-day have to find their way in.

We drove back home in thoughtful silence. Along with my 10 year old, a little older and a little wiser.